Monthly Archives: October 2011

On Revelations

Ashwalker_-_av_-_defending_van

Vidyala has a great post up about her return to her mage that will probably leave you hungry for cookies. It will also leave you appreciating her zest and joy in playing her mage, Millya.

I’m really glad to see this post from her. Vid has struggled between the needs of her raid group, her own enjoyment of being a healing paladin and loathing being a DPS paladin, and her affinity for playing a mage.

I’ve received more than one whisper from people saying they’re happy to see my mage again, and that it feels “good” to have me be a mage. It does feel damn good.

Damn, it feels good to play a mage.

Vid and I had a quick twitter conversation when she published her post yesterday, because we’ve been facing similar struggles with character identity, utility, and desire. Who do we want to play? Who do we feel we need to play to satisfy the needs of our respective groups? Who do we really need to play to satisfy them, and ourselves? Two healers, or three? Is Afflock/Afflock ever a viable arena comp? What about HPal/Ret/Aff?

I’m going to quote Vid’s twitter response, because it’s good advice:

You have to play whatever makes you happy. The only time it becomes a problem to play many characters is if it’s a problem for YOU. Only you will know when that is. If deleting some helps, then do it and never look back!

This is basically the same advice I gave her when she was talking about her problems with playing her pally instead of her mage – minus the deleting characters part. I appreciate it when folks throw my own advice back at me. :)

It’s simple advice – play what makes you happy – and it’s good advice. But it threw me for a bit of a loop yesterday, because it made me look at my characters and wonder which of them actually do that.

THE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS OF THE PURE DPS PLAYER

I have a draft post on CBM with the above title, started just before the CTA satchel was released. The title reads like a #fakewarcrafthesis, but it’s an honest attempt to reconcile some of the problems the holy trinity design creates when you enjoy playing a damage dealer, but outside pressures provide motivation to take on roles you may not enjoy quite as much. It might be your immediate gaming circle (guild, team) needing a certain comp to do well, or it might be broad, gamewide pressure to take on healing and tanking roles (like the CTA satchels provide.)

Paladins and Druids are about twice as popular as Rogues and Warlocks. Some of this can be simply attributed to the class flavors: Paladins and Druids represent two forces for good (one civilized, one natural), while Rogues and Warlocks are pretty much bad guys. But some of it also has to do with class design: Druids can do every role in the game, and Paladins can do almost every role (sans ranged DPS.) They are the holy trinity in a single character.

Rogues and Warlocks, however, do one thing: deal damage, and lots of it. Or in theory it’s deal lots of damage, because it doesn’t really work out that way anymore. Hybrid DPS is on par with Pure DPS in a raid setting. Hybrid PvP DPS is excellent, too, plus they can fill the hugely powerful healer role. Pure DPS classes get three different ways to deal damage, some of which are more powerful in PvE than others, some of which are more powerful in PvP.

But they can never switch roles. There’s no opportunity to say, hey, I like this character, I identify with this character, I want to experience the game through this character, but from a different role. There’s no way to accomodate social needs – say, your guild is down a healer tonight – your arena team needs a healer – hey could you come tank this for us? – without going to a different character. That’s the nature of a pure DPS character. Of the three options you’re given, it’s just three variations on the same theme.

Before I go on and conclude that the pure/hybrid discrepancy is the root cause of all the problems Rogues and Warlocks face, I should point out that Hunters are usually the #3 most popular class, and Shaman are the #3 least popular. So being pure DPS isn’t the only thing going on here, but it’s still a factor to be considered.

The fact remains: hybrid classes offer more flexibility between roles, while pure DPS classes offer more flexibility within a single role. This isn’t set in stone – Priests have two healing trees, Warriors and DKs have two melee DPS trees – but in general, hybrid get to choose roles, while pures get to choose playstyles.

Which brings us back to the original topic of this post: playing what makes you happy.

Cynwise_-_summoning_circle_-_slaughtered_lamb

ACTIONS LOUDER THAN WORDS

I had a conversation with Psynister a long time ago about playing Mages. I may have been waffling about deleting my first Mage twink, to be honest. He said that I was a good, thoroughly competent Mage player, but it never seemed like quite the right class for me.

“It’s because you play Warlocks with style,” he said. “You’re a good Mage. You’re an awesome Warlock.”

It took me a while to absorb what he meant by that. What did he mean by style? Style is joie de vivre, style is letting the world know you’re having fun with what you’re doing. I had that on Cynwise. All the jokes my guild tells about raiding with me are true, and it’s because I had fun being a suicidal warlock. (Most nights, admittedly. There were frustrating nights in there too.) Watching me in combat on her was a glorious thing at my peak. I was a chaos engine. I was a machine of slow, unstoppable fury, of death and destruction and unpredictable fear.

But something happened. Something happened to take that fun away, and I’ll be damned if I know what it was. But I know my warlock-joy (surely, there’s a word in German for this) went away.

How do I know?

Because if my only reason for not playing Cynwise was leaving the endgame, I would have rolled another warlock. I would have rolled several warlocks. I would have gone warlock-crazy.

But I didn’t. I rolled everything *but* a warlock.

  • I rolled three warlocks at the start of Cataclysm with the intent of leveling them with each different spec. None of them survived past level 10, and they were all gone before the elephant incident.
  • I rolled several warlocks named Cynwise to visit friends on other servers. They’re all bank alts. One of them quested through the Forsaken zones, and that’s her sole purpose: see those zones. I have no desire to level her past them. (I haven’t even gotten to Silverpine with her yet.)
  • I rolled a new Warrior and got her to 70. I got my Priest from 30 to 70. I got my Druid from 54 to 70. I got my DK to 84. I’ve made a lot of twinks: survival hunter, holy pally, arcane mage, sub rogue. I made some PvP leveling toons: a pally, resto shammy, frost mage, feral druid.
  • I learned to tank.
  • I learned to heal.
  • I went from having 1 twink to having 7. Seven. None of those are warlocks.

If I loved the class more than the toon, why did Cynwise not spark a rash of other warlocks when I put her aside? In theory, I should have been able to level them with ease, after all.

I thought that many nights. Why am I not leveling a bunch of warlocks? Why am I plugging away on a warrior, of all things? Why am I reclaiming a druid? Why am I trying to figure out a rogue?

Something happened between me and the warlock class which made me go, I don’t want to do this anymore, endgame or no.

I’d hit the existential crisis of the pure DPS player: what do you do when you don’t like the three playstyles you’ve been given? You can’t just try out a different role, after all. You get to do the same thing, only there are three different ways to do it. You can go Fire, Arcane, or Frost, but you’re still standing in the back pew pewing the boss. You can go Aff, Demo, or Destro, but you’ll never heal the battleground, you’ll never not be the one applying pressure but not KBs, you’ll never not be the Fearbot.

If you want a different role, you have to reroll. That’s what you do.

Vid realized what her guildmates and friends already knew – she loves playing a Mage.

I’m slowly realizing something, too, based on my own behavior over the past few months: I love playing Cynwise, but not playing a Warlock. 

I don’t know what to say about that.

I love playing a certain character – an ambitious girl from Northshire who made some bad choices – but not enough to get over my endgame burnout.

My own behavior shows that, no matter what I say, I do not find the warlock class compelling enough to keep on playing it.

Maybe the class was changed in Cataclysm too much. Maybe the 12% nerf really did matter. Maybe the Fel Armor and Soul Siphon changes hit me harder than I admitted to myself. Even now, I have a mental list of all the changes, and I’m like… they’re weren’t that bad, were they? Losing Drain Mana sucked, but you adapted. Right?

Well, if I really adapted, if I really didn’t let it bother me, why am I not playing one now?

I played the class for two years with style and grace, but when I got knocked off my only endgame character, I didn’t try to recreate the fun I was having – I ran straight to every other class but that one.

It’s possible that the reason I’m not playing another warlock is my well-known dislike of doing the same thing again – why I don’t like grinding out PvE content, why I enjoy PvP so much, why I struggle with things like replay value – and I can’t discount that. I really can’t.

But would that be enough to keep me away?

I have to believe that I play what I want to play. If I’m not playing my main, it’s perfectly okay, but god damnit, I have to be honest with myself – I’m not looking at my login screen and going: CYNWISE I CHOOSE YOU.

I still don’t really know what to say about that.

Ashwalker_-_stratholme_portcullis

ROLE VERSUS PLAYSTYLE

I am currently playing almost exclusively healing and tanking classes. I rolled a pally a little while ago, and was like… I’m going to take her Ret! She’s got the BoA 2H Axe AND Sword, I’m totally going to DPS it up!

Who am I kidding? I’ll get to level 20 and go, dur, I need to run some dungeons, let’s go Prot, and that will be the end of it. Or I’ll go Holy, and heal all the things in PvP. I might even do both!

I’m discovering that I don’t really want the flexibility of a hybrid. My druid taught me that. My priest taught me that. My warrior taught me that. I tried to dual spec on them and it was a disaster. Dual specialization gives me a chance to do a different role, which is good for the long term – but in the short term, it presents too many options for me to try to learn.

No, it’s not the flexibility of a hybrid that’s drawing me to them; it’s the non-DPS role. Tanking. Healing. I don’t want to DPS on a hybrid, I want to be a tank or a healer.

  • When am I happiest on my warriors? Tanking Drek or being the FC in WSG.
  • When am I happiest on my druid? Healing the heck out of a battleground.
  • When am I happiest on my priest? Healing the heck out of an instance.

Why do I enjoy those roles so much?

Because I feel like I’m playing a critical part – the critical part – in the success or failure of an activity. 

Healing a BG is a visceral rush. Standing there and supporting my team, being a beast of a healer and keeping everyone alive? It’s awesome. Does the DPS have to be smart? Sure. But they don’t have to be stellar – they’ve got me covering their back. Don’t be derpy and we’re probably going to win.

Tanking (and healing tanks) is another rush. It’s not that everyone doesn’t have a job to do, but if the tank fails, it’s all over. If I make it difficult on the healer as the tank, then I’ve done my job incorrectly. There’s a pride to being the one to tank Drek, to tank the nightmare pulls of H-MgT well, to be the one where if you don’t do your job right, you wipe.

(I’m a Leo. Maybe warlocks aren’t good fits for Leos, I dunno.)

I remember when there was a meme going around about a year or so ago, how tanks should get special privileges because they were so damn important, and both healers and DPS responded with outrage. Everyone’s important in a 5-man, came the cry. And they’re right – if you have a really skilled, geared DPS, they can make the run really easy for an undergeared tank. Not a bad tank – DPS can’t save you from them – but an undergeared yet competent tank, certainly.

And there’s the rub. If you have a derp DPS but a good tank/healer combo, you’re going to be fine for most content. (Not trolloics, perhaps, though that could be changing now. Not raids. Myabe raids? I dunno, to be honest.)

If you have a derp tank? You’re screwed.

It’s funny: PvP never entered that discussion. I wanted to weigh in at the time, but it didn’t seem appropriate, because the dynamics are different. Very different.

Standard RBG comp is 4 healers, 1 FC/melee DPS offspec, 5 DPS (at least 1 frost mage, sub rogue, defensive peeler – hunter/frost mage – another melee, and then an open slot). Healers are usually 1 of each type, except for TP/WSG, where if you can get 4 priests for LG you can do some real damage.

You need a rogue. You need a frost mage, maybe 2. You … well, you can bring a warlock, but they’re not essential.

You might need a tank to be the FC, but it depends on the battleground.

You need healers. You need 2-4 healers, period. 4 healers, especially healers with offensive capabilities, are really your best bet.

You need a higher amount of healers in an RBG than in any other aspect of the game. In a patch when raids are ditching healers and tanks to squeeze more DPS in, PvP still requires healing and dispels. It still requires a FC.

Random battlegrounds are a little different, certainly less rigid, but the same idea applies. The closer your random pug comp gets to the 4 heals / 1 FC / 5 DPS standard, the more likely you are to win. It’s not a magic formula – a good 10 DPS team could beat them, remember Gnomey’s post on it? – but I’ll be damned if it’s not a good rule of thumb.

So when I queue up as heals, I feel like I’m giving my team a better chance to win than when I queue up as DPS. When I queue up as a tank for AV, I feel like I’m giving them a better chance to win.

Would I play my warlock if she could heal instead of do three flavors of DPS? Maybe.

But then she wouldn’t be a warlock anymore.

I hate this line of thinking.

I feel like this whole discussion becomes circular very quickly, like my thoughts have gotten trapped trying to solve an unsolveable question. Which role is more important is the wrong question, especially if you want to play what you like. What role do I want to play is probaby the right one, but it is informed by feelings of utility, which then leads to which role is more generically useful and then you go right back to which role is more important?

You need all the roles filled in a BG. You need all of them filled with good players.

Good players – who enjoy what they’re doing.

I think a desire to be useful can be detrimental to having fun.

Cynedra_-_terrifying_imps_with_rainbows

THE JOY OF PLAY

You have to play whatever makes you happy.

That was my advice to Vidyala, and her advice right back to me, and it’s now my advice to you, and to myself. It’s simple advice, but hard to know how to enact.

Vid returned to her Mage because she loves the character, she loves the class, and she loves the role she plays in the activity she does. Her move to a healer was prompted both by enjoying the class and character (come on, just read Pugging Pally, it’s obvious that she loves Vid too) but also out of a desire to be useful to her raid. She picked the best option to be useful to her guild and raid, and that worked out. But once the utility ended, she was left going… I don’t really want to be raiding on Vid, I want to be raiding as a mage, and not just any mage, but to raid on Millya.

And she switched back.

I respect the hell out of her for having the courage to do that. For choosing to play what makes her happy over useful.

That’s how you have fun. That’s how you keep playing. That’s how you avoid burnout, how you play with joy.

Play with style.

I’m trying to find that joy again. Sometimes I find it for a little bit, but nothing defining, nothing that makes me go, yeah, let’s do THIS.

I might be able to find the hexerfreude again, if I could get over my aversion to the endgame. But there are two variables there – class (warlock) and activity (endgame PvP). Leveling another character up to try to address the endgame issues seems more logical, but daunting. Leveling a warlock might work, but … I don’t want to. I know I don’t.

I’ve mentioned trying some healing PvP in Arena next season; I don’t know if that’s what I really want or not, but it might be worth a try. I might unlock and level up my Druid… or my Warrior… or my DK… Or maybe the lowbie PvP alts – mage, shammy, pally?

The priest is probably staying where she is. I’m pretty sure about that.

I don’t know. I hate not knowing, but I don’t know what to do next.

I’d like this story to end like Vid’s – wayward warlock rediscovers his love of the class, returns in force with vigor and pwnage, film at 11. I think Warlocks need champions, need people to publically stand up and say, this class is awesome, because it is.

But it’s a hard class to play, and I’ve lost the spark. I probably lost the spark before I’d quit the endgame and just didn’t notice it, but I’m only now coming to terms with it. I’m only now sitting here going… I really just don’t want to do that anymore.

Maybe I’ll find it again with Cynwise, but trying to find it there right now feels … wrong. It’s the easy answer, the one that says, this is who you were, this is who you should always be. But the easy answer doesn’t feel right anymore.

Realizing that I need to reinvent myself is the first step.

We’ll have to see what comes next.

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On Decadence

Cynwise_-_tol_barad_-_reflecting_on_failure

Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (1500-Present) is an intriguing work from an intriguing historian. Barzun examines many common threads over the past 500 years, weaving them into a tale of a society exploring themes in religion, government, art, literature, and technology that is really a prodigious book. I recommend it highly.

The decadence in the title – used to describe Western culture in the 20th century – has a very specific meaning in this book. It has to do when a society’s focus is spent, when it’s exhausted the potential of a single idea and it starts casting about for a new direction. Periods of decedance aren’t lazy periods – the same amount of energy that was brought to bear on, say, the rise of the nation-state or the Industrial Revolution is still present, but it’s diffuse, unfocused, unsure of its goal or purpose. These are chaotic periods, where things don’t make sense, where cultural themes are hard to detect because they’re still being formed.

Barzun makes the point, over and over, that decadent periods aren’t morally inferior somehow – but rather that they accomplish less than periods of building, not due to a lack of vigor, but a lack of focus. People are casting about. The energy of a culture is unharnessed, so while things happen, they aren’t necessarily lasting.

I feel that way a bit in WoW right now, like I’ve entered a period of decadence.

I bounce around from alt to alt at night, trying to find something that catches my fancy. Sometimes I level, mostly I don’t. Usually I PvP.

I was thinking about Barzun tonight as I struggled with PvP on various alts. My 24 Hunter, which is usually good for a faceroll, got focused by the other team – yet we still lost. My baby Shaman got steamrolled. My Warrior got a win in AV, but it was a dirty, nasty win, with a lot of deaths, /bg filled with racial slurs and a turtle in FWV. Druid lost, badly. Priest lost, badly. I logged into Cynderblock and figured I would start on Hallow’s End, only … it starts today in Europe, tomorrow in North America. Whoops.

So I cast about for inspiration, and decided to log into my dormant main, Cynwise.

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It’s been a while. At first I was looking for heirlooms … maybe for the shaman, maybe for the baby gnome warrior. I went to the Argent Tournament to stare at the Heirloom vendor for a bit. I couldn’t make up my mind, so I went to kill cultists for a few badges. That wasn’t so bad.

So I checked the PvP pane, saw that Tol Barad was in progress, and decided, hey, it’s TB, how bad can it be?

I’m in Season 9 gear, many, many weeks into Season 10.

I got slaughtered.

I went 1:1 with folks and lost. I dotted up an AFK druid and only took her down to 1/2 health. I got killed on the way out. I got graveyard camped, so I stepped aside and went to put away the dishes. When I came back, the same guys were still there, teabagging my corpse. I was like, guys, you realize I don’t care, right? There are 6 of you and 1 of me, you have 2 healers, I’m in last season’s gear. I couldn’t kill an AFK druid, let alone multiple Conquest-geared PvPers.

That’s when I thought of Barzun’s book, and what I’d become.

Decadent.

I’d logged into 10 toons over the course of the night. Different projects, all of them, but mostly just casting about for somethig fun to do to make me feel better about a crappy day.

I used to comment that I could PvP as either Affliction OR Destruction, but not at the same time. It took me about 2 weeks of PvPing to switch specs and play at a high level, and I knew both those specs very well.

And here I was, PvPing on six different classes in the course of a night, expecting that I’d do well at any one of them. I’m getting by on being a good PvPer, not a good player of X class in PvP. There’s a big difference, and it’s starting to show.

I haven’t done much with Cynwise in 4.2 – maybe 2 bgs total – but I can’t remember the last time I felt so impotent with her.

Decadence has a price.

I sat there in Tol Barad after the campers left, thinking about the collapse of feudal monarchy, the rise of nationalism, and the existential crisis of a pure DPS player. About a newfound love of healing but a dislike of leveling. About character projects which succeeded, and projects which failed.

And I realized that I miss having the focus I had a year ago, but that I have little idea how to get it back.

That’s how decadence works, after all. In the absence of a clear new direction, you have to make it up as you go along.

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On WoW Insider’s Open PvP Columnist Position

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WoW Insider is looking for a PvP columnist. I will not be applying for the position, but I encourage you (yes you, dear reader) to do so if it interests you.

I’m flattered that people think I’m the right choice for this job. I really am. I have a lot of respect for the staff of WoW Insider, and appreciate the effort that every single one of their writers puts in to produce quality articles. It is not an easy job, but from listening to the authors and editors chatter on Twitter, it looks like a very fun one. There’s an experience to be had there unlike any other in the World of Warcraft community, and it draws people together.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t tempted. I have been. I am.

But right now, Warcraft is a hobby for me, not a job. If I was so fortunate as to work for WoW Insider, I would have a professional obligation to put out a quality column every week, and I take those obligations seriously.

I need WoW to remain a hobby at this time. If you haven’t read my post On Priorities, Elephants, and Desire, I recommend that you do so. I haven’t forgotten the lessons of that week, and one of the most important is that I need to be able to walk away from this hobby at will, as necessary. I’ve already walked away from the endgame.

To be very frank, making WoW a professional obligation would simply not be fair to my family. My wife already loses me for 40-60 hours a week. She already puts up with me being on call 24×7, of getting calls at all hours of the night and weekend, of me having to say: I have to go, take the kids, I’ll see you in a few hours. Many outages, handle it is not as funny IRL as it is on the internet.

I am making changes professionally to lessen work’s intrusion on my personal time, and adding an additional responsibility wouldn’t be the right thing to do. This isn’t about WoW Insider, or even about my desire for privacy (though that’s a factor); it’s very much about doing what’s right for me and my family.

I really appreciate the endorsements people have given me for this position. I really do. The fact that people want to read the things I write is a pretty amazing thing. I’m grateful for all of my readers, and to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

But I promised myself I wouldn’t forget the lessons of that week in July.

I will not forget.

I wish WoW Insider the best of luck in finding a new PvP columnist. It’s not an easy position to fill, but I’m sure that they will find someone who will do a great job with it.

The more good PvP writers we have, the better off the community will be.

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Five Reasons Deathwing Should Have Visited Major Cities All Along

1. Deathwing has been an impersonal villain this expansion. We should get to see his softer, gentler side. With catapults.

2. Raiders would have a truly personal reason for killing Deathwing: avenging their slain bank alts.

3. Human hunters named Bard are currently out of fashion.

4. Scatters alts throughout cities in hopes of 1) getting burned and 2) figuring out how Deathwing is going to get into Ironforge, Undercity, and The Exodar.

5. Maximum epicosity.

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On the Problems of Lowbie Healing

Cynedra_-_stables_captured_-_arathi_basin

Quick sketch post tonight.

Lowbie shaman healing has pointed out flaws with healing model that further exacerbate balance problems in low level PvP. Level 10 primarily.

All healers are not created equal.

Shammy has 1 heal – long, slow – and a defensive shield. Shield helps mitigate dots but not high burst. Also, can only be placed on single target. Slow direct heals can’t keep up with the burst – too weak. Have to stack Haste to make it work.

Pally has 1 slow heal, and an instant one with Holy Power. A ltitle more versatile but still problematic if you don’t stack Haste.

Druid has 2 (?) HoTs, one instant, one cast time. Three if you count Swiftmend. Rejuv is good because it’s instant, but must have Swiftmend to make it work. Swiftmend can keep up with burst (kinda) but CD is too long; also consumes Rejuv through level 25. Rejuv can’t keep up. HoTs are just too weak.

Disc has 1 instant shield (which can be potent), 1 HoT, 1 Channeled instant on CD, 1 direct cast. PW:S allows instant negation of burst, with Renew healing previous damage taken. Penance serves as a great filler spell when you need to heal NOW. Direct cast is fast, expensive heal, not slow.

Holy, I haven’t played yet.

Just looking at the ability distribution, it’s pretty clear why Priests dominate as healers in the early brackets.

But it’s also interesting to see how hard it is to heal well in this kind of PvP. The burst damage is something you need a toolkit of spells to handle, and 3 out of the 4 classes lack those tools. I can handle the burst at 70 on a druid, no sweat. I can’t handle the burst on a druid at 10.

Much like the difference between warriors and hunters, priests and shamans have very different skills at 10-14. Shamans have PvE skills, but they have this weird hybrid of all kinds of three different roles. Priests have two roles, and two specs are healing, so their healing bag is more stocked.

If quick, dirty heals were more prevalent, maybe even instant, healers might become more effective in low level PvP.

That, in turn, might be a different kind of fix to lowbie PvP. Don’t fix burst – fix healing the burst instead.

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Corpse Running in Battlegrounds

Base running – knowing how to get from base to base, knowing how to reach, steal, how to tag up on a fly ball – is a baseball skill that is essential for winning games. If you’re on second and the ball pops up, you need to know if it’s going right or left to make a decision about stealing third (or home). (goes right, steal and evaluate home, goes left, third is probably all you can do.)

Knowing the situation with the bases isn’t rocket science – it’s a set of decisions based on a set number of variables – but it can be very challenging. Making cool decisions under fire is the mark of a good player, both on offense and defense.

Corpse running in PvP is similar to base running.

You die. You’re at the Spirit Healer. The resurrection timer is ticking, and you have to make a decision.

  • Do you stay and rez where you’re at?
  • Do you run back to your corpse?
  • Do you run to a different graveyard?

Most players will just resurrect at the spirit healer they wind up at. I know I do, most times. The GY is a good chance to catch one’s breath and evaluate the battleground as a whole – how are we doing? What did I lose track of when I was busy getting killed?

But it’s important to remember that you always have a choice about how you resurrect.

I use the term resurrection vector to describe how forces move en masse across a BG when killed. You killed someone; where does the game say they will resurrect? Now, how do you use that to your advantage?

In terms of strategy, it’s safe to assume that people will pop where their resurrection vector sends them. Most people don’t think about running to their corpse in PvP. (Many don’t think about it in PvE, either, lazy folks.)

Corpse running screws up resurrection vectors. It’s unpredictable, risky, and can lead to huge payoffs when done right. It can be used to bypass choke points and launch surprise attacks. It can be used to recap nodes, steal flags, and move across the map unhindered.

RUN BACK, NOOB

I was in Arathi Basin on my Horde Hunter tonight when we got overrun at the Farm. I started calling out the rez timer when I realized that my insignia hadn’t been taken yet. My corpse was right next to the flag.

Then the flag got capped, and I was sent back to the Defiler’s Den.

It’s easy to just go ahead and rez where you are. But as I checked to be sure that my insignia was still there (it was, this was a lowbie bracket) I realized I had a chance to get back into the battle very quickly.

Furthermore, the Alliance was already riding away.

So I ran back to my corpse, rezzed, and defended the Farm. Lok’tar Ogar!

Arathi Basin has two places where running back makes a lot of sense when your nearest base is assaulted – the spawn points. Battle For Gilneas has two, as well. But even when you’re not in a good position, take a moment to think about where your corpse is and what you’d gain by running back to it.

There are some risks.

Your insignia could be taken, leaving you stuck far away from the Graveyard with no body for your spirit to inhabit. While legend has it that this is how ghosts enter our world, in Warcraft all you’re risking is time away from the battle. This used to be a highly risky option, but the addition of the Return to Graveyard button negates the chance that you spend 2 minutes getting to your corpse, only to find there’s no way to rez.

Now, at worst, you can get back in the game 30 seconds after your insignia is taken.

You could hit a resurrection timer when you get to your body. I think this depends upon the number of times killed in the BG, but I don’t know the specific algorithm – but I do know that sometimes, I’ll show up at the corpse and be told I have to wait.

I hate waiting to resurrect.

There are a lot of situations where it’s smarter to run back to your corpse and rez than to accept the Spirit Healer’s guidance. Keep in mind that this is an option, and you’ll start to see them open up.

HEALS REZ ME PLS?

In multi-graveyard battlegrounds (everything but WSG), you can go run to another Spirit Healer and let them raise you from the dead instead of the one your resurrection vector sends you to.

Why would you do it? Consider the following situations:

  • You’re at Trollbane hall and the Horde is strongly holding Stables, pushing up the hill to hold you in place. (You’re getting farmed.) Step out, go to a base you still control before it slips away.
  • You’re encountering stiff resistance moving past Icewing Bunker… but you were able to cap Dun Baldar Aid Station. Instead of going back to Stonehearth, start having people race north to get in position to pull Van.

There are judgement calls you’ll need to make – let’s say you’re in EotS, and the base directly across from yours is getting attacked, or will be attacked soon from opponents spilling off the flag bridge. Corpse running allows undetectable movement between the two nodes… but it is going to be slower. Should you do it? *shrug*

Getting around choke points is important. Sometimes (like in AV), you just can’t get around a point, and you need to – they’re waiting on tank and heals down at Drek! – run to the Relief Hut. Wintergasp allowed you to choose your Spirit Healer, which is a feature I’d love to see in more battlegrounds.

The biggest drawback of running to another node is the time it takes to get there. You might head out for a graveyard, only to have it captured before you arrive. Even if it’s still there, you are out of the battle for longer than following your default resurrection vectors.

STOPPING THE RUNNERS

Stopping your opponent from corpse running is impossible, but you can frustrate and stymie them. If you make them waste their time being unproductive in the BG, you win. The best way to do this is to not immediately collect their insignia, but let them get a little ways out before yanking it. (Shaman and Warlocks are the exception – take their insignias as quickly as possible to prevent self-rezzes.)

Generally speaking, you don’t have to worry so much about corpse running or graveyard switching in PvP. Most people don’t do it. I don’t do it often enough; I kick myself every time I spent an entire AV cursing out how I couldn’t get around Tower Point when we held the Relief Hut.

But, when done well, corpse running can be highly disruptive.

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On Learning to Accept the Role of your Class

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I want my warriors to be better at PvP than they actually are.

It’s strange for me to say that, because there’s really not much more I could do on Cynderblock to improve her. She has BiS gear for every situation I’ve been able to plan for. All three specs, different situations, PvP and PvE. Low level questing, high level questing. Trash tanking, boss tanking, instance soloing. Stamina stacking, Armor stacking, Avoidance stacking, Crit stacking, Intellect Stacking – all of it.

But no matter how good I make her, she’s still going to suffer from some huge drawbacks in PvP:

  1. Inability to maintain Time on Target due to lack of Warbringer, Hamstring, Concussive Blow, etc., reducing overall DPS as well as burst damage.
  2. Only gap closer requires you to get out of combat.
  3. Rage issues due to lack of shouts.
  4. Lack of true self-healing like Paladins and Druids.
  5. Overwhelming potence of Hunters, Mages, and Priests in the bracket; ‘block can be killed by a Hunter’s pet in 5-7 seconds while the Hunter kites.

The counterbalance to this is that she’s incredible in PvE. In a traditional 5-man setup, she’s an awesome tank. She’s fun to quest on. She can kick ass with authority in a dungeon.

But in PvP, she’s … listen, I play a lot of classes in PvP. Warriors are weak against Hunters and Mages in the 19 bracket. They’re one of the two weakest DPS classes. They can be strong FCs, but they really need a pocket healer to be fun.

Tonight, I queued up for WSG, got in, and saw that there were a few familiar names. Everyone was over 1000 HP, something I haven’t seen in a while, and I attribute that to the removal of the F2P twinks from the bracket.

But I wasn’t the FC – a shaman was, and she did it very well. I don’t sit there and pout when this happens; I switch over to Offense, slap on my DPS gear, and give it my best go. I get in position to repick, or I make myself a nuisance with the EFC – I try to contribute as best I can.

It’s usually not a lot of fun. Hunters zoom in on me as a free HK if I’m crossing the field. I’m not very effective.

Warriors are the best tanks at level 19, surpassing Paladins for threat (especially AoE) and Bears. They’re fun and dynamic little pocket rockets, stance-dancing their way through an instance. I know that with the threat changes it’s not really saying much that Warriors have great threat from 15-24, but… it’s what they have.

Tanking Deadmines? Great. Having versatility in PvP? No. Not yet. They can be extremely versatile at level 85, but … not at 19.

Level 70 is better, but not balanced yet. You have a lot of the gap closers, but hunters and mages are still nightmares. DKs are crazy good. I prefer playing Prot PvP because of the mobility it gives me, letting me ping-pong around the battleground, stunning, shocking, pummeling, charging from one caster to another. I see how the toolbox has improved, and how it just needs a few more tweaks.

It took me a few weeks of playing both warriors as my primary characters for me to realize a few things.

TIMES I WAS HAPPY PLAYING PROT PVP

  • Alterac Valley. Hot damn, A little PvP for a warmup, then tank Drek? Sign me up.
  • Warsong Gulch, as the FC. I’m getting pretty good at FCing, but I need a good healer, too.
  • Arena. I did one level 70 Arena. Even though we lost, I had a lot of fun.

TIMES I WAS NOT ALL THAT HAPPY PLAYING PROT PVP

  • Arathi Basin. Sometimes it would be okay, sometimes I’d just get steamrolled.
  • Strand of the Ancients. This could be frustrating, or it could be an easy game to get through. The mobility of Prot helps a lot with slowing down the tanks.

TIMES I WAS MISERABLE PLAYING PROT PVP

  • Warsong Gulch, any DPS role.
  • Eye of the Storm. I usally love this one, but I would get destroyed every time in EotS. The open fighting style – heals are very distributed on the map – spells trouble.

Interesting breakdown, isn’t it? I was tempted to say, hey, this is problems with these specific brackets. But I didn’t struggle in the same BGs on my Priest, and my Druid handles them all pretty much the same – Bubble/HoT all the things!

I remember this happening on Cynwise (warlock) and Cynwulf (death knight), when they were pretty much the only toons I played. I struggled on WSG with ‘wise – a lot, OMG, did I use to hate that BG – but once I switched over to ‘wulf, WSG was cake. It was easy. AV was fun on both toons, but I did very different things there. Areas where I struggle on one toon are trivial for another.

Warlocks are a good example right now. If I were to base my opinion on warlocks based on how they do in leveling BGs, I’d be really down on them. Man, they suck in almost every bracket.

Except 85, where they become kings and queens of the 3s. Where they do just fine in PvE. Where they do fine in most BGs, though they’re not part of a standard rBG comp.

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Isn’t that odd?

I mean, we talk a lot about class parity and homogenization in PvE, but – in PvP at least – I’m not seeing it. Sutble differences in abilities affect playstyle, which then interacts with our individual preferences.

I like playing AV on Ashwalker. I enjoy tanking on her. But I’m discovering that I enjoy PvP a lot more when there’s a healer involved, because she kills waaay too slowly. I enjoy PvP more on my Druid, where I feel like I’m making a massive difference by healing everything in sight, than I am on my warrior – except when my Warrior is tanking or FCing. So I’ve stopped queueing for randoms on Ash, while I continue to random it up on Cynli.

I have been thinking on and off about Vidayla’s struggles with Firelands healing and the Hybrid’s dilemma – what happens when you want to play a character, but the spec you want to play is not a good fit? There’s tension that arises there, between the suitability of the class for the role, your comfort in playing different things.

There’s also tension when you have a main (like Vid does, like I … used to) and that main is you, it’s your avatar, and you realize that because of the way in which you’ve strucutred your relationship with your avatar – the limits placed on the toon transfer to you. I’ve looked at a lot of PvP achievements and realized that they’re just easier for some classes to do than others, so if you happen to play one of the harder classes, guess what? You’re screwed. Not your character, but you get screwed over by the game and made unhappy.

Vid had a good example of this – The FL fights she’s on needs more DPS, fewer heals. So she either had to stick with the character she liked (for healing) and DPS in a spec she didn’t like, drop healing and go full time DPS, or sit out the fights.

I can play Ash in AV and WSG as PvP, or I can tank all the things. Those are the places which make me happy to play her. I can play other BGs on her, but it’s not as much fun, and is sometimes downright painful. Blcok is even more limited in her scope right now, which makes me sad.

This may be a good side effect of the project-based toon creation I’ve been doing of late. I get them to where I want them, and then see where the fun actually resides. It’s been a challenge learning to be honest with myself about where I do and don’t have fun on a given toon, of accepting that not every character can be everything at all times. We’re all just searching for balance, here.

I think it’s important to be honest about how your playstyle interacts with the class, and how that in turn will make certain activities in the game more or less enjoyable for you. If it’s raiding or PvP, questing or running 5 mans – accepting the role you fit best into is vital for long-term happiness.

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Filed under Cynwise's Field Notes