Back to School

Ambermist over on Tastes Like Battle Chicken has suggested a Shared Topic on Blog Azeroth. She asks:-

what about WoW just doesn’t work for you? Maybe it’s something you aren’t good at, maybe it’s something you just don’t understand, maybe it’s something people like that you really never got into and don’t understand the appeal”

In thinking about this my mind kept on returning to something I read the other day  in another WoW blog – something along the lines that if you can’t play your class by the time you’re 90 then there’s no hope for you. I actually think that’s complete nonsense. There’s always hope – I’m living proof (after all I survived the Durumu maze yesterday!).

But it does lead into what doesn’t work in WoW for me – and that is the fact that the degree of skill needed to level your character is so markedly different from the skills needed to raid & to a lesser extent run dungeons.

In my opinion you can easily  get to 90 without really knowing how to play your class. I could have got to 90 as a mage purely questing & spamming Arcane Blast in every single fight. And contrary to popular opinion that is not all that Arcane Mages do in proper  boss fights. We have to do complicated things like count to 4, keep an eye on Living Bomb and remember which of the  Mirror Images can’t be trusted.

But yes getting to 90 could have been just an Arcane Blast spamfest.  Certainly I would have died more often (in reality I have at least tried to use other abilities & so have done my fair share of freezing & blinking to get myself out of trouble – often blinking right into another pack of mobs of course – but that’s another story).  But even with more deaths and messier fights my progress would have continued and I’d have got there in the end.  I actually think that many people just “get there in the end” i.e. get to 90 without properly knowing all the tricks of their particular trade.

And that’s fine. To enjoy this game you don’t actually need to know how to play your class well. You can quest, level, fish, dig and dance without knowing your class inside out. In fact you can be on only nodding acquaintance with your class to do this & lots more.  You only really need to know how to play your class well when it comes to dungeons & raids  (& of course PvP)– in other words when (a)the difficulty level steps up a gear (b)you bring other people into the mix.

I think problems arise in WoW when people think that just because they have hit the level cap they can easily succeed in a complicated raid or dungeon.  Someone at 90 might very well not be good at dealing with dungeon mechanics, avoiding bad stuff on the ground, using interrupts or basically doing anything other than standing stock still & hitting things.  All that levelling via questing trains you for is the latter – see mob, hit mob X times, loot mob. And so this is what I think is missing from WoW  – a leveling experience that truly trains you for a raiding end game.

I speak from personal experience in all this of course. In fact despite the “pro” freezing & blinking referred to above I’ve been shockingly reliant on a very limited number of spells in my levelling experience. So much so that I froze (in a non Mage sense) the other day in LFR when someone said “Mage table” (as an aside note the lack of “please”). I had forgotten I could even set a table (real life doesn’t help – we always eat on our laps). I’ve also written previously about my mishaps with  Slowfall in a group  & the other day I counterspelled  when I meant to blink.  And I realise these are very basic abilities. Sigh.

What I wish for is an in-game dungeon & raid Training School. I’d enroll in a heart beat. I’d even wear the uniform.  Year 1 would involve running 5 man dungeons with NPCs. If you’re Dps they would  be Tank & Healer etc. These dungeons would be different from the dungeons in-game at present in that there would be more complex mechanics involved, more need for situational awareness &  less abuse  (in fact the NPCs would be programmed to say encouraging words throughout such as,  “Well done Seashell, you sheeped that troll, yes I know you then broke CC because you forgot to change targets but yay for the sheeping, we are so proud” etc.).

In Year 2 the dungeons would step up in complexity & become tailored to your particular class. Additionally on occasion one NPC would play up and have to be shown the error of his ways – bonus points if you get the NPC to apologise for yelling Gogogo & calling the healer a noob. Party chat would sometimes be disturbing – particularly if there were NPC Pandarians in the group. But it would be good experience.  You would fail the dungeon if you did not use all the necessary abilities. You would even need to conjure refreshment, cast Slowfall & correct someone’s grammar. The full caboodle. Most importantly no mob would go unsheeped. You get the idea.

Before entering Year 3 you’d need to run some proper dungeons in the real Azeroth world with real people. Then when ready (i.e. out of therapy) you’d come back to school for the 10 man raiding experience (9 NPCs – all with their own interesting personality quirks, including one who claims he’s a real player trapped in the raid by Blizzard) & in year 4 the 25 man experience with a boss whose  abilities would change in ever single encounter (oooh hardcore). And then & only then would you be released into the wild i.e. LFR.

Oh it would be amazing. I understand that Proving Grounds has been introduced as a way to challenge yourself and practice your class (or a new class specialisation) alone. But I don’t see that it prepares you for group experiences and raids & I do think it comes too late in the game. Not because by 90 you already know it all, but because by 90 you could know so much more, and there could be something in the game that could help you with this. So come on Blizzard – the summer hols are over, let’s go back to school.

12 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. School Uniforms. Hmmm. *distracted*…

    Anyway! I totally agree. I have a level 90 Death Knight that has no clue about what the rotation should be, and she does abysmal damage, but it’s been good enough to get to 90 and to have all pre-5.4 inscription recipes.
    Now I have to look at gear and rotation and Dee-Pee-Ess stuff if I want to farm the new recipes in the new(er) high(er) end zone(s).
    Cue my Pally. I leveled her so she could build me a bike. In between in Wrath, she even tanked ICC! Then things changed with holy power and charges and, and, and all that stuff. WTF do I know what to do on her anymore?! She’s an alt’s alt’s alt. Thrice removed! It gets even worse when I look at my kitty druid. Most attacks that hurt the enemy immensely are performed when standing BEHIND the mob. Please, do tell me how you manage to practice that while questing to 90. Those mobs? They don’t turn away from you. Ever.

    That being said, 5.4 did introduce the “Proving Ground” (I think that’s what it’s called) at the Temple of the White Tiger. I tried that with my ‘main’ (prot. warrior), and while “bronze” is relatively easy and “silver” somewhat challenging, I personally think that “gold” is quite ugly. The NPC doesn’t help much with lazy heals and zero movement while I’m trying to draw NPCs with huge AoE attacks (and a huge hitbox away from Ms. “Panda-don’t-move”). In other words, it’s a test that looks pretty good to practice your role, including fire-squatting DPS.

    1. I am impressed with any Pally that tanked ICC! I have a Pally too – 85 – and yes the holy power stuff really changed her for me too. I’m struggling with Proving Grounds Silver on my DPS at the moment (really embarrassed about this since so many people are saying how easy PG is!). I’ve got to the interrupt the healer wave – I’m interrupting but still not burning him down quick enough. Only tried twice last night & then gave up after scaring the dog with my swearing. Going to have to look at my rotation/gear/glyphs/gems etc. Or maybe give up DPS for good & become a full time farmer. I do agree it’s a good place to practice DPS (or face up to the truth about your skill level) but I still think it would be great if this stuff was properly integrated into the leveling process so you learn as you progress.

  2. I’m not sure if I even know how to play my main (hunter) properly! But I muddle through and she does some reasonable damage. I have two other 90s – a mage and a DK. Now, I’m a bit of a button basher and I have little if any knowledge of rotation, cooldowns etc outside of hunters abilities. I’m not sure if it’s because I never took the time to learn things as I leveled or because the leveling experience didn’t teach me well enough. Either way I still enjoy playing them 🙂

    1. It’s nice to see there are others that button bash (my button bashing increases in line with my panic!). The key thing as you say is enjoyment. However, I find in a group setting the focus is all too often on assessing skills/abilities/gear – no one seems to have much tolerance for people who are just in there having a ball. Which is a shame.

      1. Yeah I think I’ve been very lucky – my guild acknowledge and have a laugh (in a good way) at my button-bashing and my simplistic way of saying things. I’ve also been lucky meeting people via Twitter that also like to have fun in a non-pressured environment. But I agree more and more people are getting focused on numbers – be it iLevels or damage scores. For me this isn’t what the game is about and I tend to ignore their comments/complaints etc.

      2. I totally agree with your approach to it & it’s great you have found a guild & people with a similar outlook. There are lots of us out there I think- but our voices don’t always tend to be the loudest so you can sometimes feel like you’re the only one playing the game in that way!

  3. That would be a great Proving Grounds addition, honestly; a true group mechanic. I’m sure it would be really hard to pull off, but if I can dream for a minute, can you imagine Proving Grounds where you have to practice group functions? Watch threat meters, interrupt, save yourself from unavoidable damage, move out of crap on the floor, etc.

    I think if people in game (myself included) would a) be more friendly about correcting things in leveling dungeons, b) be more proactive about correcting things in leveling dungeons (since most of the time it’s like, “eh, that doesn’t really matter anyway, I can power through it), and c) be more open to friendly critique, we’d see a lot of improvement.

    Of course, there’s no etiquette school in WoW, unfortunately. >.<

    1. It would be brilliant. But as you say there are opportunities in early levelling dungeons to help each other in a constructive way. Unfortunately from my experience it’s all gogogo – no time to loot let alone learn & again so many missed opportunities.

      1. Yeah, I kind of miss that from pre-dungeon finder. As much of a headache as it was to actually get a 5-man group and stay together through something like BRD or Heroic Black Morass, when you finished you had both learned something and met a couple of good players on your server.

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