Thursday, October 20, 2011

PvP for PvEers: Get Out Of The MUCK

Cynwise left a comment on Monday, encouraging a list of the things I've noticed from mingling with players newer to the PvP scene.  At first, I thought I was going to be able to put together a simple list of concrete "moves."  The problem I quickly ran into, and one veteran PvPers can attest to, is that there really aren't a set of moves that always work.  More accurately, PvP might be described as having "seasons."

Yeah, I know, Blizzard already does the season thing.  But I'm not talking about those seasons.  I'm talking about the way the balance of PvP ebbs and flows.  Like the tide.  Or, like our seasons.  We have a spring, summer, fall, winter... and then get right back around to spring.  Certain moves that are good in the spring will net you death in the fall.  And you don't want to be wearing your summer armor in the midst of winter.  Brrr!

PvP is all about adaptation.  More than anything else, you have to be flexible.  You can't really hone in on a rotation, because as soon as you do, someone will figure out a way to counter it.  Sure, certain combinations work, but the better they work, the more quickly we'll devise a counter-strategy.  Such is the way of PvP life that I think is totally different from PvE.  After all, in PvE, the only thing that alters playstyle is the changes made by the Devs.  In PvP, you have that still, sure, but you also have the adaptation of the playerbase.

Look no further than resilience as a prime example of this.  Originally, it was a very good stat (spring).  Then, it got too good (summer), so they nerfed it (fall).  Finally, resilience gear started being eschewed for raid gear, since it wasn't such a great stat.  It got buffed, and we're right back around in spring.

Some of that is due to Blizzard's manipulations, but some of it is also due to the player base.  Originally, when resilience didn't really affect DoTs, what did we do?  Bring on the DoTs!  Blizz, said "hey, wait a minute" and changed things.  A large number of Blizzard's decisions in PvP can probably be traced back to a group of people "exploiting" weaknesses.  And I don't mean exploit like "cheating," but rather, it's simply part of PvP.  You should always be looking for an edge.  That's just good competition.

So, really, knowing a set of "moves" is a passing advantage.  If you've PvPed for years, chances are you use completely different moves now than you did a year ago, and not all of them are because something is "better."  More likely, it's simply "different."  There are, however, strategies that you pick up through the course of PvP that separate a veteran from a newbie.  They just aren't as concrete as you might think.  So after giving this a lot of thought, I've attempted to condense my feelings on PvP Lessons, or "stuff you pick up," into four neat categories... with an easy to remember acronym: MUCK.  As in, you won't muck up your RBG group if you have learned these things.  Otherwise, you make me pull out my mucking hair.
  • Make Your Life Count - Or, if you prefer: Give it Meaning.  Perhaps the biggest frame of mind tick I find from PvE folks dabbling in PvP is an overemphasis on living.  Dying in PvP is Not A Big Deal.  Let me say that again.  Dying in PvP is No Biggy.  Sometimes, dying can even be strategic.  Use death as a teleport.  Make your life count.   Charge into that group of 5 guys, AoE CC them in some way, plop an AoE on the flag... and then bite it.  If you do it right, you can buy precious seconds for your team to respond.  Or maybe they hit somewhere else while the enemy is distracted.  Very simply, you have infinite lives.  Use them!  Make them count!
  • Use the Terrain - In PvE, I know those rocks are, at best, a pretty piece of scenery.  At worst, and annoyance.  In PvP... they're a shield!  The can block casts and/or hide your from unfriendly eyes.  Duck behind the shack.  Avoid peaks of hills and return the flag through the valleys.  Terrain can be you friend in PvP, pay attention to what works, and try to see it from your enemies point of view.  If you don't use the terrain, I guarantee your enemy will.
  • Cast Control - (Cue up a certain Prince song).  But seriously, don't blow everything you've got right up front.  Then you're left, well, impotent, and no one wants that.  A big part of PvP is knowing when to use your spells.  Do we back load our CC?  Should we go for a cleave?  In PvE, as a DPSer especially, you grow used to going all out ALL THE TIME.  The only choice is when to pop heroism or that one really long cooldown your class has.  In PvP, you'll be using a lot of utility spells that are on shorter cooldowns.  Make sure you control yourself.  Use them at the correct time and save us all a lot of embarrassment.
  • Know the Big Picture - One of the first things I try to get newbie PvPers to do is turn on the battlefield mini-map.  That's the on you get by pressing shift-m (if you haven't changed the default keybind for it).  I don't know how people PvP without this.  It's like being blind.  The BMM shows you all the objectives, who holds them, and where all your team members are.  It will also show you the flag carriers, though the EFC only if you can actually see them (if they're following "U" above, then they may not show up right away).  You will take your game to the next level with this one simple step.  When we started our RBG, I had people wonder "how does he know where I am?"  I was, after all, across the map fighting at a different node.  It was like, "Duh, battlefield map... oh you don't even know about it? B'whaa?"  It is absolutely crucial that you know not only what's going in your neck of the woods, but also in the entire forest.  That is, if you want to be a woodsmen.  Terrible metaphor aside... Know what the muck is going on!
That's it.  Those are my four.  They represent a larger view of some of the most glaring things I've seen.  I would call these things "the basics."  Yet, for PvE players, I don't think a lot of this comes naturally.  To some extent, they're things I've taken for granted after years of PvP.  When I encounter someone mucking up, my initial reaction is one of bewilderment and anger.  How could you not know these basic concepts?  But that's probably not fair.  If you've not PvPed regularly, you've probably not picked up this stuff.  They're just not all that important in PvE.

PvE folks, you know how to gear.  You know how to press buttons in a semi-sequential order for maximum effect.  You even know how to avoid the bad.  There are a lot of transferable skills.  These four, however, I think you need to learn.  At least, if you don't want to annoy a muck-head like me.


  1. Know the Big Picture. I love this one with my holy pally. He is hard to kill and can be quite the distraction. Sometimes to the point where the opposition is making a mistake by going after him.
    Burning down a healer is usually a good idea but not to the point that you miss the flag runner or siege engine swinging by behind you.
    I've had a hunter and priest going after me in WSG so hard that they ignored the flag runner who went right behind them. Once, in SotA I had three opposing toons going after me while TWO siege engines rolled by and took down a gate. You're winning the fight but losing the BG doing things like this.

    Another fun one was an IoC that had two multiboxers in it. An amazing 10 shaman group and 5 druid group. They set up shop defending their commander. So we stayed away an made it a resource fight. So while they had 15 toons parked in their keep we capped all the resources and won. These two multiboxers lost the BG because they had over a third of their side defending one node.

  2. Yeah, multiboxers are annoying. They can kill you quick with focused burst... but strategically, it's not hard to win.