Raid Buffs and Debuffs – Part 1

This post is now out of date. For the updated list of raid buffs, click here.

Each class can bring certain benefits to the rest of a raid in the form of buffs for your raid group or debuffs that get put on a boss. For the Blue post on buff/debuff categories, see the official forums (this post is slightly outdated). How important are these things to raid performance? Let’s take my hunter as an example.

According to the Hunter Spreadsheet, with 0 raid buffs or debuffs, I have a max dps of 5520. Not too impressive. But look what happens when we add buffs:

Buffs DPS
None 5520
Best raid debuffs 7157
Best raid buffs 7858
Best buffs and debuffs 9786
*Does not include self-buffs like food and flasks*

Now, I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that buffs are good. But play around with your own class’s spreadsheet to find out just how much difference they make. Even something you may think is relatively minor, like Faerie Fire, can make a difference of almost 100 dps for a hunter. And that’s just for one raider. Add those little bonuses up for a whole raid group and you can see how much you’re missing out on if even one of the available buffs/debuffs is missing.

This post will deal with the categories of debuffs that should be present in a raid to optimize performance (buffs to come later in the week). In general, debuffs will serve one of two purposes. They will either increase the damage your raid does to a boss, or decrease the amount of damage a boss does to the raid.

Going back to my hunter, here’s how each individual debuff effects my maximum theoretical dps:

Debuff DPS Increase
20% armor reduction 367
5% armor reduction 86
4% physical damage 167
30% bleed damage 135
3% crit 206
13% spell damage 219

Now, these numbers are slightly misleading, because I’ve just checked what each debuff would give me on its own, without accounting for any other buffs.  When combined with the other debuffs, their value would be much higher (i.e. the addition of 3% crit would be a bigger dps increase if the boss already had the 20% armor reduction debuff). Even still, it’s clear how important it is to have these debuffs up on the boss in order to achieve the best possible raid dps and make those dps-check bosses, like Festergut, more doable.

Here are the categories of debuffs that can be put on a boss. In each category, you can only benefit from one debuff (the most powerful one). They do not stack.

Major Armor Debuff – Reduces armor by 20%

Who can do it: Warriors, Rogues, worms (exotic hunter pet)

Optimal application:
Sunder Armor from a protection warrior. This will be put up as part of their normal tanking rotation.

Other sources:

Lacking a prot warrior, is it optimal for a rogue or warrior to be applying this debuff? That question is a bit too mathy for me. For discussion on this topic see: EJ. Or just tell your rogue and warrior to roll-off and the loser has to apply it.

Shattering Throw – This also applies an armor debuff, but has a short duration and a cast time. It can be used to quickly get the debuff up on a boss during a pull before sunders have been stacked. Note: This ability actually stacks with the 20% debuff from Sunder (thank you Rilgon!).

There is also an armor reducing ability used by worms, but as this is an exotic (BM only) hunter pet, you probably won’t be seeing too many of these in raids.

Minor Armor Debuff – Reduces armor by 5%

Who can do it: Druids, Warlocks, wasps (hunter pet)

Optimal Application:
Faerie Fire is used by Feral druids for threat, and balance druids use it for extra hit and crit on the boss.

Other sources:

  • Faerie Fire – If you don’t have a feral or balance druid, resto druids can apply this as well. It does mean leaving tree form, but even if you can just cast it once at the beginning of the fight, it lasts 5 minutes and will buff the physical dps.
  • Sting – applied by a hunter’s wasp pet
  • Curse of Weakness – applied by a warlock. Since curses can make up a large part of a warlock’s personal dps, this should be used only if you have no druids. If you have a caster-heavy group, it might not be worth it.

Physical Vulnerability Debuff – Increases physical damage taken by 4%

Who can do it: Arms Warriors, Combat Rogues

Optimal application:
This is a talented ability that it is applied by arms warriors as Blood Frenzy and combat rogues as Savage Combat.

Bleed Damage Debuff – Increases bleed damage taken by 30%

Who can do it: Feral Druids, Arms Warriors

Optimal Application:
Mangle – This is used by bear tanks as part of their tanking rotation.

Other sources:

  • Trauma – An arms warrior talent that procs off critical strikes.
  • Feral kitties also have mangle, but are happier when they have someone else to put the debuff up for them.

Spell Critical Strike Chance Debuff – Increases chance to be critically struck by spells by 5%

Who can do it: Affliction Warlocks, Demonology Warlocks, Fire Mages, Frost Mages

Optimal Application:
Improved Shadow Bolt – Although this talent is in the Destruction tree, it is not used by destro locks. Affliction or demonology warlocks are the ones who will be bringing this debuff to raids.

Other sources:

  • Improved Scorch – A mage talent in the Fire tree.
  • Winter’s Chill – A mage talent in the Frost tree.
    Non-arcane raiding mages are few and far between at the moment. A lock is your best bet.

Increased Spell Damage Taken Debuff: Increases magic damage taken by 13%

Who can do it: Unholy Death Knights, Balance Druids, Warlocks

Optimal Application:
Ebon Plaguebringer from an unholy DK or Earth and Moon from a moonkin will be automatically applied when they use their abilities.

Other sources:

  • Curse of the Elements – This can be used by warlocks, but will interfere with their personal dps. Used as a last resort.

Increased Spell Hit Chance Taken Debuff – Increases chance to be hit by spells by 3%

Who can do it: Balance Druids, Shadow Priests

Optimal application:
Improved Faerie Fire from a moonkin or Misery from a shadow priest are both applied as part of their own dps rotations.

Critical Strike Chance Debuff (Physical and Spell) – Increases chance to be critically struck by 3%

Who can do it: Retribution Paladins, Elemental Shamans, Assassination Rogues

Optimal Application:
Heart of the Crusader from a ret pally is applied whenever they judge the boss. Master Poisoner is applied whenever an assissination rogue poisons a target. Totem of Wrath is dropped by an ele shaman.

Melee Attack Speed Slow Debuff – Reduces attack speed by 10-20%

Who can do it: Warriors, Feral Druids, Frost Death Knights, Protection Paladins, Enhancement Shamans

Optimal application:
Generally, tanks are the best ones to apply this debuff, especially when they have the ability talented to reduce attack speed by 20%.

  • Thunderclap – Applied by prot warriors.
  • Infected Wounds – Applied by feral tanks.
  • Judgements of the Just – Applied by prot pallies.

Other sources:

  • Frost Fever – DKs, 14% untalented. 20% with Improved Icy touch.
  • Earth Shock – 10% reduction, applied by enh shaman.

Attack Power Debuff – Reduces attack power by 410-575

Who can do it: Feral Druids, Warriors, Warlocks

Optimal application:
This is best applied by whoever has talent points spent on it.

  • Demorilizing Roar – Used by bear druids. Reduces AP by 575 when talented.
  • Demoralizing Shout – Used by warriors. Reduces AP by 575 when talented.

Other sources:

  • Non-talented demo roar or demo shout.
  • Curse of Weakness – Can be used by warlocks. Reduces AP by 574 when talented (affliction tree). Again, not optimal for a warlock to have to put this up.

The debuffs above are the ones you should aim to always have on the boss. Below are some more situational debuffs.

Healing debuff – Reduces healing taken by 50%

Who can do it: Rogues, MM/SV Hunters, Arms Warriors, Fury Warriors

Optimal Application:
Mortal Strike from an arms warrior and Aimed Shot from a survival or marksman hunter are both is used as part of normal dps rotations.

Other sources:

  • Wound poison – Can be used by rogues as a weapon coating
  • Furious Attacks – Warrior fury talent. Mostly used for PVP, don’t expect a raiding warrior to have this.
  • Improved Mind Blast – Shadow Priest. Only reducing healing taken by 20%
  • Permafrost – Frost mage. Smells like PVP. Only reducing healing taken by 20%

Cast Speed Slow – Decreases cast-time by 30%

Who can do it: Rogues, Arcane Mages, Warlocks, serpents (hunter pet)

Optimal Application:
It depends how long the effect is needed. If needed for a whole fight, Mind-numbing Poison from a rogue is your best bet. If it’s needed only temporarily, the other choices are:

  • Slow – Arcane mage talent.
  • Curse of Tongues – Warlock
  • Poison Spit – serpent pet

Melee Hit Chance Reduction Debuff – Reduces chance to hit by 3%

This debuff is generally defunct. For the two classes that can apply it, it would mean taking a large dps hit. And besides, your tanks need more rage :P

But here’s how you can get the debuff if you’re really adamant:

  • Insect Swarm – Moonkin talent. Glyph of Insect Swarm removes the hit chance reduction.
  • Scorpid Sting – Hunter shot. Serpent Sting is a big part of dps for any hunter spec, so this sting does not get used.

Edit: With the recent changes to Starfall, the Glyph of Insect Swarm is no longer considered one of the top three glyphs. It is now feasible to have the melee hit chance reduction debuff in your raid if you have a moonkin. Don’t ask a hunter to provide it though.

For the next part of this post, see Raid Buffs and Debuffs – Part 2

5 responses to “Raid Buffs and Debuffs – Part 1

  1. Interesting post. It's obvious that proper raid buffs and debuffs are helpful to the raid, but it is enlightning to see it put into numbers.

    • Thanks. I've updated a little and added some more numbers since your comment.

      It's interesting that even something little, like having a tree throw up FF on a boss when they're the only druid, can really boost raid performance.

  2. Rilgon Arcsinh

    One minor nitpick: Shattering Throw is actually, as far as I'm aware, another 20% on TOP OF the debuffs already present on the target.

    But otherwise, a damned excellent post.

  3. Awesome stuff. Will have to make sure we have moonkin or Unholy DK, since that 13% damage is massive. Basically takes a 6k caster and makes them 7k … wow.