Friday, 4 February 2011

Prime Position

One of the main aspects of learning to do heroics and rad in Cata is players' awareness of their surroundings and their positional play (i.e. not standing in crap). Now I'm the first to admit my positional play hasn't always been that good, not bad, but not as good as it should be, and I've made a concerted effort since I came back to sort it out. Those of you reading my last blog entry will know that I've rolled a druid alt for a bit of fun; now originally I went balance and restro for my specs as I've never really got on with melee classes, but last night I decided that balance wasn't the easiest way to roll a druid so gave it a go.

The first thing which struck me about running instances with a melee class (ok, I was supposed to be healing…) is that you instantly look up from your cast bars / healing addon, stop playing whack-a-mole and start to take notice of the world around you. I think there are two reasons for this; firstly, as melee, you're position for DPS / survival is far more important, you're far more likely to get tail-swiped, flame-breathed, or a multitude of other nasty's. You obviously need to stay in melee range, obviously, which is more difficult than staying in casting range, and your abilities may also depend on you being positioned behind the mob. Secondly, most of the main melee abilities (certainly of a druid, and a number of the other melee classes I've dabbled with) don't have cooldowns, there's a set priority of abilities to use, all of which I've been using in auto-pilot mode from keybinds, yes there are some big DPS boosts from abilities with longer cooldowns, but by definition, you're not looking down at your cast bar to find them that often.

Contrast this with my priest, firstly as a healer. First and foremost (in a heroic 5-man) I'm looking at the health of the tank, is it high enough, does he have a renew active, do I need to cast a direct heal to refresh it? Are the other party members healthy, if not can I heal them without killing the tank? Have I got Chakra up? Which Chakra state do I need next? Does anyone need decursing? WILL YOU PLEASE CLICK THE LIGHTWELL, which is the best healing spell, or combination of spells from the choice of 50-odd I have to use next? Hang on, why is my health bar dropping faster than Andy Gray's popularity with the ladies? Oh shit, I'm stood in crap….

With the shadow priest it's not quite as difficult, but still demanding, is SW:P up, does it need a MF to refresh it, what about DP and VT, do I have an Orb up to cast MB, is the mob below 25% health for a bit of SW:D lovin? Plus the numerous cooldowns that are crucial to maintaining DPS – I'm generally thinking at least two or three spells ahead at any one time.

Probably wrongly, traditionally the last thing on my mind has been movement. I put this down in some part to my past raiding experience back in the day; yes you occasionally needed to move to get in range, but it's rare as a ranged caster that I'd have been standing in crap, or had to move quickly, in any of the Vanilla WoW raid instances.

Where is this all going I hear you ask, well here it is, I've spent a couple of hours playing a melee druid in instances, and already I've noticed a marked improvement to my positional play and awareness of what's going on around me. I've only managed one heroic since then but even there I noticed my reaction times with the movement keys was a lot sharper. The moral of the story, well, if you're struggling with avoiding crap, or just general awareness of the world around you, why not roll yourself a melee class and see how the other side lives. It won't instantly make you pro, but it can't hurt? Can it?

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