Playbook: DPS Midfield Pick

Strategy is the plan to win the battle; tactics are specific techniques used to enact that strategy. You have to have both to win. I’ve talked at length about strategies here on CBM, but less about tactics than I probably should have. Partly this is because tactics tend to be class specific, and also because they tend to be highly situational – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, and you have to exercise judgement in knowing when they’re going to apply.

In retrospect, I think that was a bit of a mistake. It’s good having a strategic understanding of each battleground, because then you can make decisions about where you should go next. But it’s also good having a tactical playbook, of having techniques you can use in support of that strategy.

My personal goal is to keep these more focused than many of my strategy posts. Here’s a play, here’s where I think it’s useful, give it a go and see how it works for you. Teams will vary, responses will vary, but hopefully you will find my playbook useful.


Let’s start with something simple, the DPS Pick.

I use this play a lot in WSG, and it’s a tool for a fairly common situation – the FC is unsupported in midfield, a rez wave has just hit, and the enemy is in pursuit of the FC across midfield. I’m playing DPS. What do I do?

I pick the opponents and get the FC to safety.

A pick in sports is when one player runs the opponent covering them into another player. I learned it playing lacrosse, where it’s specifically applied to stationary players, but since Warcraft doesn’t allow collision detection, it’s going to be a little different.

The FC is running for the tunnel entrance. If they’re smart and heads up players, they’ll run right to the GY, but for sake of example let’s say they’re not paying attention and just going straight tunnel.

To set the pick, I get on an intercept course for the FC, angling to pass on the midfield side of him. As a healer, I would head towards the tunnel entrance and try to get ahead of the FC – as DPS, I want to get behind, because that’s where the pursuers are.

My goal is absolutely not to kill the pursuers. My goal is to control and distract them. Every second I can slow them down is good. If I can get them to stop chasing the FC and engage me, that’s even better. I want to be as irritating as I can be so that they think they need to deal with me, instead of chasing after the FC.

On a hunter, I’d try to trap or scattershot. DKs has Chains of Ice and ice cubes, mages have Frost Nova and Polymorph, warlocks have Shadowfury, Fear, and Howl of Terror. Tailors have nets. Engineers have bombs.

Every DPS class has something they can do to stun, slow, fear, or otherwise force the opponents to stop chasing the FC. Don’t open up with attacks – open up with CC. You’re not there to kill them. You’re there to let the FC escape.

Keep up with the CC. While instant fearbombs can be nice, an AoE stun followed by mass fear can be even better – not only will it stop pursuit, but it is guaranteed to piss off the other players and cause them to forget about the FC to focus on you.

And all the while, your FC is running out of midfield, either to the safety of the healers in the base, or directly in for a cap. Once the FC is safely away, or you have their attention, then you can start laying on the damage.

You can use this play in other BGs – Strand of the Ancients, for instance, is prime ground for DPS to pick opponents. There are multiple FCs in SotA, after all – they’re called Demolishers. If Demos are rumbling by a GY where defenders are rezzing, get in there and distract them! Who cares if you die, the FC gets away!

And that’s the whole point of the DPS Pick.


Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, PvP Playbook

25 responses to “Playbook: DPS Midfield Pick

  1. EnvoyOfTheEnd

    A vastly under-used tactic in pvp, being a pain in the ass.

  2. Solid tactic. As a Hunter running flags in WSG, I often DPS pick MYSELF using my pet/traps. I’d toss a freezing arrow in one pursuer’s path, send my pet (with charge/stun) at another, then maybe send him at a third for an Intimidate. And if the enemy is foolish enough to stop and fight MY PET, I’m basically home free.

    • There are times on Cynderblock when I’ve got a hunter pet on me, and I’m DPSing it down as fast as I can (because it can totally solo her, given enough time) that I start cursing the fact that I’m attacking a MOBILE DOT WITH HEALTH AND SPECIAL ABILITIES.

      And then I long for Warbringer. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      • After thinking about this some more, I actually forgot one important element of pet-picking – I’d “move to” and place it in my opponents’ path like a trap. It’s funny – smart players would ignore it, but some players would actually see an ENEMY!! and stop to fight it. At which point I’d just wait and then send it at another foe to Charge/Stun them, as well. ๐Ÿ˜€

        This, of course, was all done over my shoulder while I was running towards my tunnel. Mouseover pet controls FTW!

  3. Grim

    I love setting a pick for the flag carrier mid-field. It is particularly fun if they have a healer, because I PVP as a prot warrior. Charge stun, intercept stun, pummel, concussive blow, shockwave, AoE fear, AoE snare, and ranged silence play hell on healers. Pop shield wall and you’ve got some time to work with until the DPS finally kill you (and the flag carrier is halfway down field).

    Frost mages suck.

    • My philosophy on my (high level) Prot Warrior is inspired by something Matthew Rossi said – be as irritating as possible. I ping pong all over making their healer’s life absolute hell. If I have a healer with me, we can usually keep the healers completely occupied while the DPS does their job.

      I may not top damage meters, but I’m sure I top irritation ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • bovinewrath

        On my prot war, my macro for being a royal pain in the ass is:

        /castsequence [harm] reset=15 Charge, Intercept, Charge; [help] Intervene;

        Weave heroic leap in, use intervene+spell reflect whenever it helps an ally, shockwave and initimidating shout in there and you can piss off 5 – 6 people and keep them on you without breaking a sweat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. For the record, Pallys don’t have an AoE for this, but they have two they can use (with a 1 minute CD, tho). Warriors are better at this than Pallys, for sure, but we have that built in bubble defense against this.

    • Yeah, I don’t have a pally so I forget all of their abilities. I know that Ret can come in and still pick quite effectively, not the least because they can use the few CCs they have and then unload damage – much like DKs, ignore them at your peril while chasing the FC down.

      • Yeah, but the trick is to get Ret to blow their CDs before they can close. Sometimes it’s better to just die and respawn than blow your CDs and lose them for when you need them.

  5. This has been one of my favorite strategies since the first day I picked up a football. I use the reverse of this quite a bit too. Learning what angles you need to take in order to connect with a flag carrier is just as important when you’re on the other team. It’s amazing how much more successful you can be when you actually think about what you’re doing and how to react to the situation. Playing to win rather than playing to kill is such a hard concept for so many people to grasp. Now if only they could get the scoreboard to show these things so people knew they were important.

    • I was going to do the FC and healer routes too (I have the FC ones mapped out, even) but decided to keep it simple for now. ๐Ÿ™‚ Pursuit should always run to the tunnel or tun/ramp space if they aren’t already on the GY side – it’s like, catch them at the tunnel, don’t run into the rez wave alone!

      I learned how to pick in lacrosse, where you have to really be on the ball to avoid the guy who stops dead in the middle of a cycle. OH SORRY DID YOU NOT SEE ME THERE? I’ve been reading a lot of football plays lately, so you’ll probably see some influence there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Your advice to control rather than kill is useful in lots of situations, in addition to this one. For example, have you got an enemy healer supporting defenders in the opposition flag room? Don’t kill them. They will pop up in just a few seconds with a full head of mana and no debuffs, and ready to support a takedown of your FC.

    Of course, it’s hard to kill a competent and well-geared healer anyway, unless you really focus them, but if you’re careful you can put enough pressure on them that they will be forced to choose between surviving and healing their teammates, which is what really matters. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope you write more of these, I would love to learn more at your school of PvP tactics. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. bovinewrath

    I really liked this post. It taught me two new things too:

    1) Frost grenades – have two toons I am trying pvp on that have engineering (rogue and priest) and never knew I had something so cool.

    2) Running to the space between your GY and tunnel in WSG when you’re the FC and being pursued – its simple, but such an effective tip.


  8. YAY tactics. Strategy is nice and all, but without solid execution, fruitless. There are a lot of fun and bg effective strategies that could be filed collectively under PITA. My favorites, in addition to the pick:

    – Being a PITA, then run around a corner while your friend does something sneaky

    – Stunning a tank and cackling as your boss runs right at the ranged group. (Even better, smokebomb the tank, vanish, prep, and repeat. If you do it fast enough, tank won’t even notice)

    – Slowing one demo endlessly while it’s partner charges ahead, gleefully distancing itself (seriously, just dismount and deal with the interloper)

    Moar tactics please!

  9. Thanks Cyn. I look forward to more of these posts. Now as a lock, do you run with the glyph of fear? I still have it on my raiding build, but thinking having them running away from me might be better.

    • I don’t like the Glyph of Fear for PvP, personally. Not only do I want to get distance from the other character, there’s a greater psychological impact to the other player when their toon just starts running amok. Glyphed, it’s just like getting a stun.

      As Affliction, I prefer the Shadowflame, Howl, and Soul Swap glyphs.

  10. See, as a Rogue, I pride myself on having been a pain in the ass of my opponents since 2006. /flex


  11. Battlemastered

    If you were on my server Cynwise I’d so have you in my core rbg group. Now I know you tend to shy away from max level pvp but RBGs are litereally the most strategic and competitive form of pvp I’ve yet to engage in. Taking away the pug aspect of BGs and going in with a group of 10 people who know what they’re doing facing a similar group of 10 opponents, it’s extremely challenging and rewarding.. lots of fun!

  12. Pingback: The Point « Fel Concentration

  13. Antorix

    Hey Cyn…

    Awesome post. I’m still a green noob, and MOST DEFINITELY one when it comes to PvP. I had tried it a couple of times, and as you said elsewhere, it was some scary shit! ๐Ÿ™‚ I was mostly like “WTF do I do now?”, “Where the #$%$ AM I?”, “Why is everyone running that way?”, etc. Most of the time, I’d just end up finding some filthy Alliance stooge (Oops! My bad!) and trying to whack ’em on the head. Kinda fun, but not really satisfying, and I knew it was NOT what I should be doing. I really wanted to give it a good go. I didn’t want to be a burden to the team, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself either.
    So, I’ve been trying to read up on WTF you ARE supposed to do, and how to go about doing it. However, almost everywhere I had looked, the information was so slim as to be actually useless.
    Then I stumbled across your blog, and now this Blood Elf is as happy as a troll in a jungle. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been reading various posts on your sight since 8PM last night (it’s 5AM now), and have learned – REALLY learned – so much! Even the little things. Like sometimes I’d be in a GY and it would say rez in 5 seconds, sometimes 20 seconds, sometimes 30, etc. I never knew why the difference. I thought maybe sometimes I’d been bad, broken a rule, whatever, and was being given a time out. (Yes, I have a 1 year old daughter! LOL!) NO OTHER site EVER mentioned that rez comes in 30 second waves. And so much more!
    Needless to say, I’m in PvP noob heaven here, and I just wanted to say thank you. Please don’t stop. And BTW, thanks to Manalicious and her blog for leading me here.

  14. You mentioned it in passing, but it’s worthy of additional comment.

    Heals support from the front
    DPS support from the back (or side).

    Heals in front mean that they are out of the way of the pursuers, so they aren’t getting hit or CC’d. They have all the time in the world to get a heal off on a fast moving FC, Finally a priest with Leap of Faith has just provided one more snare breaker & “a blink in the right direction”.

    DPS on the other hand to be dragging the chasers, pull their jocks down around their ankles so they just stop in their tracks… it also means that you are in a position if the EFC comse running in, to put the heat on him, potentially pulling more chasers off your FC as they switch to defense.