01 May 2007

Battleground Noob

I made my first venture into the battlegrounds last night.

I got online after dinner and got an instant /whisper from Cargarios: "You have to come here and try this!" We'd talked about doing it before, but that was right when we leveled to 30 and we decided to wait until we were higher in our zone. Last night, Wyrmm and Cargarios decided to give it a try. They loved it and so I jumped in too.

We started in Arathi Basin. DK was eating dinner, so Cargarios and Alamein jumped in. Compared to PvE, it was simple chaos. The Horde were attacking from all over, and it was all I could do to find a reasonable fight and try to get off some damage before death. The first couple fights quickly devolved into a desperate battle to keep the Horde off the stables, and in each case we more or less quickly lost.

Fundamentally, the Horde were much more organized and capable than the Alliance. Some of it was a better level of PvP tactics; they knew how to fight well. It's taken me time to develop my PvE skills -- the druid is flexible enough to be complicated -- and I'm going to have to learn things all over again for PvP. But a lot of it was much better team tactics. They had a plan and a mission and knew what they were trying to do; we had maybe one or two chat messages ("take lumber mill??") followed by lots of improvisation. In the end, we were just overwhelmed; we went in a second time and lost even faster.

We tried that a few times, and then switched to Warsong Gulch to see what that was like. The good news was that it was a bit simpler to figure out, and the Alliance was able to do better, but still the Horde just had better strategy and tactics. So we lost there too, but at least I started to get a better sense for how I needed to fight. I started to show up near the top of the rankings at the end of the match -- below many Horde players, of course, but at least looking respectable from an Alliance perspective.

It's amazing to me how fast these games evolve. I've played a very small amount of online FPS games against human opposition, and frankly I suck at it. I'm probably too old to have the twitch reflexes to match my opponents' speed; I don't play enough to have the tactics; and my hardware is slow enough that I can run into lag problems too. In PvE, I can find a place to stand and work from there, maybe backing up to kite a mob, but no more. In PvP it's imperative to stay constantly moving, and that in itself is a big challenge for me.

Key realizations:

  • I figured out I was going to die so fast that mana efficiency just didn't matter. So: spam Moonfire. Towards the end of the night I was living long enough where this became a small issue, but frankly I didn't have a better strategy to switch to.
  • Rogues suck. Many of my deaths came while I was stunlocked by a Rogue. Hence it became very important to keep Nature's Grasp up as often as possible. That's my best defense against stunlock.
  • Warriors were a problem too; they would Charge me and establish stunlock from there. But if I could Root them then I had a very good chance to deal with them.
  • I don't have a good strategy for hunters. Hibernate can be useful against the pets, but only if I have enough time to cast it without interrupution, AND if the pet is unlikely to get attacked by someone else. On the other hand I can reach out to them with Moonfire and Wrath, so at least I can fight back.
  • The casters present unique challenges, particularly because of their DoTs and curses rather than their nukes.
  • As much as I've played WoW at this point, my biggest enemy is situational awareness. Figuring out what's going on is challenge #1, and sometime that starts with "what direction am I facing?" and "where are they coming from?"
We played for a while in Warsong Gulch, and then switched back to Arathi for a last go. And this fight went rather better than the others. I was able to do some real damage, and take down a few Horde. The pinnacle was when I came up on a single level 37 Tauren warrior coming up the road.

We saw each other and knew the battle was on; nobody had surprise. I didn't have Nature's Grasp up (still on cooldown) so it was going to be a challenge, but I got off my first Roots before he could lock me up, and from there I was able to kite him and heal myself. It worked beautifully, and I saw him crumple... a split second before my screen went black. My worst time yet for a system crash. By the time I got rebooted and logged in, the match was over. So I didn't even have a chance to check my stats. Frustrating; but I know that I did better and that we came much closer to actually winning the match.

Of course, I was exhausted and sweating by the time I finished. It was... intense. But also a lot of fun. I'll be trying that again soon.

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