Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Play Well

  I'm not by any means a hardcore player, but to call myself casual wouldn't be accurate either. I've built a reputation as a fast learner with a wide base of knowledge, with expertise in some areas.

  • I've played Hunter, Priest, Shaman, and DK to 85.
  • I raided in ToC and ICC (11/12 when it counted) as a Hunter.
  • I pugged as much as possible in Cata on my Priest and Hunter, 11/12 then 6/7.
  • I've done rated battlegrounds and some 2v2 both as a Priest and Hunter, random battlegrounds with my Shaman and DK.
  • I consider myself an expert at all Hunter specs, especially SV.
  • I've made a special study of the buff/debuff system.
  • I'm a well rounded Priest healer, having played A/A Disc, regular Disc, and Holy in PvE, Disc and Shadow in PvP.
  • Though new to Shaman, I manage to top charts in LFR as Resto or Enhance.
  • I'm currently tanking heroics on my DK, almost geared enough to hit LFR.
  • I have 1 of each crafting profession turning profit, mostly focused on the ore shuffle, glyphs, PvP gear, item enhancements, and a bit of cross-faction arbitrage.
  • I've leveled a Druid to 50 and a Pally to 45 and climbing fast, both alternating tanking and melee DPS, and also a Rogue to 50, alternating dungeons and battlegrounds.
  • I've played the other classes to at least 20, to get the first impressions of the class.
  • I'm familiar with a wide variety of addons.
  • I'm typically able to write my own macros tailored to my playstyle.
But enough about me. Here's what I think are the basics behind playing well that hold true across all classes and roles:

  The Basics:

   1. Preparation 

  Much attention is paid to a players gearing, talents, glyphs, gems, enchants, and reforging. Most players active in the endgame are well aware of the right gear and build to have in order to meet approval, but many fail to understand the reasons behind their choices. In order to be sure you are fully prepared, you must fully understand your spec's stat priorities and caps and be intimately familiar with the talent and glyph choices available. Elitist Jerks is a good place to start.

  Also often ignored is buff/debuff optimization, particularly between Shaman totems and Hunter pets. In MoP, the buff/debuff system will be trimmed even further, but a basic knowledge of "Who brings what" will allow you to tailor your choices effectively. The Petopia forums has a great chart that can help.

  Also, keep a stack of buff food, potions and flasks and use them. Every little bit counts.

  2. Effective High Activity

  ABC, Always Be Casting. The only people who might pause for a moment are healers conserving mana. Everyone else should make maximum use of every GCD available. The best way to keep your activity high is to practice at the dummies.
  • Know your basic rotation/priority and how to modify it based on temporary factors, such as haste buffs, random procs, movement, ect. Practice at the dummies.
  • Have a mathematical understanding of your basic resource system, i.e how much mana a heal costs, or whether a rotation is energy/focus positive or negative. Practice at the dummies.
  • Know your "Meta-rotation". Know when to stack or space out temporary buffs. Time them for maximum effectiveness. Know the internal cool-down of procs. Time them. Practice at the dummies.
  • Quickly and effectively switching targets takes practice, especially when multi-dotting. Guess what? Practice at the dummies.
   3. Effective Movement/Positioning

   Wayne Gretzky's father drilled him to skate to where the puck is going, not where it's been. Playing reactively adds unnecessary down-time and error to gameplay. In PvE, it's mostly a matter of knowing each phase of the fight and planning movement accordingly. In PvP, movement and positioning becomes much more complex.
  • When in doubt, stay with the group.
  • Start moving before void zones appear. For those that give warnings, there's no excuse for taking even 1 tick of damage.
  • Stacking up typically means sharing about the same space as everyone else stacking up. We don't each have to have our own space.
  • Alternately, spreading out and watching your distance to other players is often necessary to surviving. Use DBM's radar box to handle this. You have DBM, right?
  • Stay in range of your healers!
  • Know the ranges of important abilities, even other classes abilities.
  • Use pillars and corners to your advantage whenever possible.
  • Backpedal responsibly. For most players, that means never.
  • Stay in range of your healers!
  4. Effective Communication

  Communication is often lauded as the most important factor in team play, but it is often ineffective. Strong leadership is necessary to keeping a team focused and disciplined. Leaders must state goals clearly, and keep the team informed of changes. For most people, however, speaking up becomes a balance between reporting too much information and failing to report game changing information.

  Speak up if:
  • You think not saying anything will cause a wipe or a loss.
  • You don't know something. (Where to be, what the target is, ect.)
  • You think you might have a solution to a problem under review.
  • You just used a "Raid cooldown", i.e. Tranquility, Hymn of Hope, Pally Hands, ect.
  • You are in a battleground alone at a flag and under attack.
  • You are dead in a battleground, other people's health is low, and the res timer is 20 seconds or less.
  • You just used your trinket in arena.
  • You plan to CC anything.

  That's all I have for the most basic fundamentals of the game, though I plan to revise this over time. (Suggestions welcome!)

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