Thursday, February 24, 2011

Habitually Speaking

Back when I first started playing WoW, I developed a lot of bad habits while leveling. 

My first 45 levels or so, Quintalan was Holy Spec, but since I rarely went into instances at that time all I knew how to do was quest --and kill things-- using my weak Holy Spec capabilities.  To compound the problem, I looked at gear the way I would in my pencil and paper RPGs:  a little bit of Intellect and a little bit of Strength never hurt, and look --something with Agility!  It never occurred to me that maybe I ought to concentrate on one stat and let the other gear fall by the wayside.

After I switched to Ret --at Soul's suggestion-- I developed another set of bad habits.  For example, I'd use tanking abilities in my attacks, which really don't go over well when you get into an instance.  And when leveling, I didn't have a concept of a rotation.  Sure, you could argue that Ret Spec in Wrath didn't have a rotation --and I'd not disagree with you either-- but the basic understanding behind a rotation escaped me.

Oh yeah, I was a noob.  I had my share of "HEY STOOPID!" moments out there in WoW.

It wasn't until I started pugging and got serious about understanding how a Ret Pally works that I finally broke out of these habits.  I tinkered with key bindings and how much you could load onto one button until I realized I needed more granularity than that.  (Such as saving Avenging Wrath for Bosses; you don't need it for trash.  Therefore, don't try to bind it on any of my attacks but leave it on a separate button.) 

Even when 4.0.1 dropped I didn't have moments quite like those first few months of playing WoW, and for that I can thank Tomakan.  He was mired somewhere in the 40s when 4.0.1 was released, and so I had plenty of time to work out how the new Ret rotations ought to work without all the clutter of higher level Ret capabilities.

But now, after having spent time leveling in the Cata zones, I've kind of backslid a bit.  I slack off on my rotations because I can, unless I'm dealing with multiple enemies at once (or an elite).  I've got some nice new skills on both Neve and the Pallys, but I haven't really adjusted my key bindings.*  I know that the Cata instances are harder than Wrath, but I haven't tested the limits of how quickly I can go through my rotation without pulling aggro.

WoW is still a learning process.  Maybe if you work at it hours a day for most days of the week, yeah, you can top out at a high level.  But most of us don't have that amount of spare time.  To get competent at your class, you need to dedicate some time, but nowhere near the levels seen by the elite raiding guilds. 

Unlike my noob experiences, I know what I need to do to get back on track.  I need to get into more Cata instances.

Am I worried about getting into Cata pugs?  Not really.  I like to be prepared, and if I can't be prepared, at least be overpowered.  What's killing me is the time factor.  I don't have the time to set aside two hours to cover a pug right now.  I can run BGs more quickly than what I've discovered via the Cata pugs I've been in, so I end up queuing for them instead.  (When Alterac Valley is looking to be quicker than a Cata pug, you know you've got time issues.)

So for the time being, I'm going to continue to quest and accumulate a punch sheet of things I need to do.  I'll get around to it.  Someday.  Maybe. 

*I instead lust after a Naga Razr, thinking about adding buttons there rather than upset my current balance.


  1. I had bad habits for a long time, too. I was well into 70 at the end of BC before someone suggested to me that I read up a little bit on my class and spec. Luckily for me, it was a friend who was looking out for me instead of a rude or belligerent stranger who was trying to be a jerk (another encounter I've had).

    Discovering Elitist Jerks (I know there's other sites with other reputations, but that's the one I frequent) was like walking into a new world. I'm a teacher who espouses studying and learning all day, so finding out I could study and improve myself was a miracle. Since then, I've become a main tank in a #5 guild, a raid leader, and a source of information for new guildies.

    Learning that there are bad habits is part of the journey, I guess, from leveling noob to knowledgeable raider. The context of the discovery, though, can make a big difference in how people enjoy the game and treat others in the future. I think it's important to remember that when we encounter fools in dungeons.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I love healing on my druid, but I loathe all the DPS specs. I chose Boomkin so I at least could use the same gear, but I really, REALLY dislike it currently (just personal taste). So as a result, my "leveling" consists of a) getting my Eclipse state into the "more arcane damage" phase, and b) spamming Moonfire.



    Shockingly, not only does it WORK, but it's actually quite effective. I kite, so I take very little damage, and Moonfire's mana cost is reduced while moving, so I can pretty much do it all day long.

    Does it teach me how to be a good Boomkin? Nope! But I have no plans on ever being in a dungeon as anything but a healer, so I'm not concerned. I just wear out my 1 key and cheerfully moonfire my way through quests. :)

  3. @Stubborn-- I have mixed feelings about E-J. While I really like the work that people have done with the number crunching, their focus on max-level raiding means that an understanding of your class while leveling is of secondary importance. Considering there's a lot of game time spent leveling a new toon, that's a pretty huge gap that's missed. What ends up happening is that you have to go to other sites to see what is recommended for your particular spec.

    When I started leveling Tomakan as a Holy Spec, figuring I'd do it via the LFD tool, I found very quickly that several sites pooh-poohed the idea of leveing via Holy Spec at all. Considering the point of going into an instance is (outside of the obvious fun factor) learning how to play your class, this seemed self defeating. In the mid-late 30s I finally switched Tom to Ret Spec, but that was just because I got tired of being underpowered as the gear drops constantly favored the tank and caster based classes.

    If E-J were to sit down and work on the leveling aspect of toons, that would be great.

    @Rades-- Well, the kiting is always important. If you're a caster, it's one of the biggest tricks you can learn. When Neve was in her 20s and in Hillsbrad, I spent several afternoons just kiting around those lions and spiders and bears, first as Fire Spec, and then as Frost. Never underestimate the power of Moonfire and kiting, man; it's vital for PvP.

  4. I had the same issue. Leveling is easy enough that you don't need to know what you are doing in order to progress... which I think is a huge reason why I never queued for dungeons. I know that I do not know how to 'play' many of my toons, because of the whole time issue. I would research my top 2-3 toons (and these ones I would PuG with), but the others were just for fun!