Thursday, May 22, 2008

Heading for the WoW gym

How could I improve my performance in the raids, becoming a more valuable player?
This question keeps coming back to me - as it does to any raider, I guess. This is the nerve, the challenge, the very essence of raiding, at least for me.

I do my share of theorycrafting - I follow the discussions on the forums, I ask others for advice, I spend time experimenting with Rawr, I don't hesitate to waste loads of gold to change gems and enchants so it suits with my current spec.

And all this work gives me some results - it's evident when I'm checking on the damage meters. There's really nothing wrong about my dps. Still at some points I fail. Like last week when we were in Tempest Keep, going for Void Reaver. I had no trouble at all on the trash - as a matter of fact I was one of the major damage dealers of the raid - in spite of the fact that I was constantly put on sheep duty, having a sheep to deal with almost every single pull.

But when it came to the boss himself my dps fell like a stone. I sucked. Alright, I wasn't killed instantly by flying orbs - most of our tries I managed to survive, blink away, take health stones, pots, bandage myself and live for quite long. But I just didn't get the opportunity to nuke very much. I found it hard to judge when the orb actually was going in my direction and I should move, and when the orb wouldn't hit me and I just could stay on my spot. I ran away in vain too many times to keep up my dps. No matter how I tried with different camera angles, the problem was still there. I was furious with myself afterwards. This wasn't the standard that I would settle with. I wanted to do more.

So how can you deal with it? When you've done everything you can to improve your spec and your gear (I had even enchanted my boots with boar's speed before the raid in order to be able to run a bit quicker), when you've done your theorycrafting and you already use every needed addon to help you - how can you still improve?

The answer came to me as I was visiting a real life gym the other day. As I was struggling with the weights, pushing my body a little further than it liked, I reflected on the similarities between the gym and my WoW experiences. And it dawned upon me: if I don't actually put on any weight I won't develop any muscles, I won't get any stronger. If I really want to improve my playing I must give myself a decent resistance. Not go for the easy victories - they won't teach me a thing.

What I really need to do to master Void Reaver and any other mobile fight better is to become more mobile myself - to be able to see the mobs quicker and act from it. And where do I learn that? Well certainly not from farming the usual content, going for the easy gold. Picking berries on Sunwell island or in Netherstorm won't make my WoW muscles grow a bit. I'll get gold, but gold won't buy me a better raid performance.

Instead I should go for the bombing quest in Blades Edge, which I hate since I constantly get shot down, and I've stopped doing at all after the Sunwell patch with the abundance of easy dailies to do. No matter if it's a loss of gold going to BE - it's not the point. The point is to develop my skill.

So the bombing quest will be one of my WoW playing gym machines. Another one will definitely be to do more PvP. It doesn't matter if I don't get any kick out of killing other players. The thing is: they're so much more unpredictable and harder to spot than any mob I normally meet. They're just perfect for getting me in shape.

I've got a game friend, who's actually a bit of a personal WoW trainer for me, if there is such a thing. He wrote the other day: "PvP is a good, though frustrating way of training your awareness of the surroundings. To see your character isn't as important as to se what may occur to her". I think he's quite on the spot. As he always is.

The third gym machine I've got in mind is the Skettis trees. So far I've been quite unable to take them down on my own. But I'm convinced I could do it, if I just trained up my skill. I just need to become better in timing my spells and cooldowns. Using PoM, Cold Snap and Ice Block at exactly the right moment. Not too early, not to late.

Will I die a lot doing this training program? Yes, probably. Will I lose gold for the repairs? Definitely. Will I get annoyed and frustrated? Absolutely. Still, with this gym picture in my mind I think I'll be able to cope with it. I know exactly where I'm aiming.

I want to perform

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