A damage shield (often abbreviated DS) is any buff that returns a flat amount of damage to the attacker in response to all incoming melee attacks.
Damage shields are similar in principle to reverse damage shields, although their underlying mechanics work somewhat differently.
- Damage shields deal damage to attackers on every swing that hits. The damage happens immediately when the swing takes place.
- Damage shields do not deal damage to attackers on swings that miss (combat) or are dodged, riposted, parried, or blocked.
- All damage dealt by damage shields is unattributed (i.e., the game does not consider it when determining who gets the credit for a kill).
- The damage dealt by damage shields does not generate any hate.
- The damage dealt by damage shields bypasses all ordinary forms of magical resistance. It can be reduced by certain effects that specifically mitigate damage shields, but such effects are uncommon.
- Many of the game's damage shield buffs stack with each other. This stacking is additive, with attackers suffering the sum of all damage shield buffs on every single swing.
- The damage shield stat will be added to the sum of any damage shield buffs on a character, adding an amount of damage equal to the stat. (At least one damage shield buff must be active on a character in order for the damage shield stat to trigger.)
- The actual amount of damage dealt by a damage shield is seen only by the player who is the target of the swings. In a group or raid situation, this means that only a person who is tanking can parse damage shield DPS.
- The damage being unattributed makes damage shields popular in strategies for power leveling lower level characters.
- The damage being applied on every incoming hit also makes damage shields important in various swarm tanking strategies.
- In general, damage shields shine as a source of damage in any situation in which tanking and healing are strong but DPS is lacking, or in any situation in which directly damaging foes is difficult or impossible due to high resistances or outright immunities to certain kinds of damage.
- Damage shields are especially potent sources of DPS against hasted mobs and mobs that flurry, due to the high volume of swings such mobs produce,
- Because it reduces the number of swings in a given period of time, slowing a mob's attack speed is counterproductive when trying to achieve the highest possible DPS from damage shields. Debuffing the mob's damage output through other means (e.g., by greatly reducing strength and/or attack rating) is preferable.