Last week I was over at a friend’s house apartment, for parties and stuff I guess (WHO THE HELL BURNS POPCORN? COME ON!), and near the end of the evening ended up playing some WoWzors.
It being the AV holiday weekend, and my paladin still needing a few honor pieces, I queued up for that and away I went, smashing faces in and so forth, whilst me and a couple other WoWheads discussed PvP balance.
We were initially talking about arena matrixes, and discussed how well unholy DK/ret/disc would run in 3.3. After all, Unholy’s getting a few buffs and ret isn’t being nerfed for once, and I casually mentioned that poor retribution had been nerfed every single patch since LK shipped.
And you know what my friend said? He said “yeah, and you guys are STILL overpowered!” I mean it was meant as a joke, his main is a death knight after all, but ARGH ret pallies aren’t OP anymore!
So a long discussion was launched, in which I enumerated the many areas with which ret paladins are seriously lacking, about the lack of control, snares, gap closers, interrupts, and so forth, all the while kicking ass in AV.
At the end of my lengthy tirade, the same friend spoke up and said “That’s great and all, but I just watched you kill fifteen people in under three minutes, by yourself, without using major cooldowns, and you were fighting no less than three of them at a time.”
Which was, of course, completely true. My defense?
“Well… yeah… but… they… uhh…”
I mean how do you say “I was better than they were in nearly every way” without sounding like a complete tool? I had better gear than them, I made few mistakes, they made many, I knew how to play defensively to win and how to use CC properly, they didn’t.
Which brings me to a completely different point.
The vast majority of people in battlegrounds have no idea how to PvP, in the broadest sense.
I’m not talking about how to PvP with their class. I’m not talking about, say, a hunter having no idea how to use traps/deflection/disengage properly or a mage not knowing when to use counterspell.
I’m talking about PvP in general. As in, PvP skills that you use no matter what class you play, no matter what game you play.
Defensive play, for one thing.
The number of people I meet who can play defensive is surprisingly low.
To use the broadest possible sense, there are two modes to PvP: offense and defense. At all times, you are trying to defeat your opponent (not necessarily killing them).
When you are in offense mode, you are actively trying to kill. A frost mage using Deep Freeze and unloading a hasted frostbolt and two ice lances into a target is offensive play.
When you are in defense mode, you are actively trying to survive. A frost mage ducking out of LOS for a split second to dodge Unstable Affliction is defensive play.
Proper defensive play can’t really be taught, you have to go out and consciously learn it. You can’t tunnel vision, you need to be aware of LOS, know how to use it properly, know how to prevent your opponent from using it, you need to be aware of what cooldowns you have and what cooldowns your opponent has.
I’ll give you a few examples to try and describe what I mean. Hopefully you learn something.
The scene: My ret paladin, wintergrasp, a southern workshop. 4 horde, including me, versus 9 alliance.
Largeish battle going on. A hunter disengages from a warrior, landing directly in front of me at half health. A quick crusader/judge later, the hunter bites the dust. I get hit with curse of agony and corruption, which means there’s an afflock out there. Destruction warlocks don’t use CoA and rarely use corruption, they use curse of elements, then immolate to fuel massive chaos bolt/conflagrate crits.
UA and haunt are coming right up, even though I don’t see the warlock yet.
I’m near a drop off, so I take a quick couple steps and drop out of LOS. Cleanse corruption… oh hey look, the warlock followed me! Standing right above me on the edge. Felhunter just dispelled Sacred Shield, which means the warlock can’t dispel anything from himself for 8 seconds. He’s too far away for me to melee, which means I can’t autoattack or get in any crusader strikes. But he’s in range of everything else. Hammer -> judge -> DS -> exorcism -> hammer of wrath -> dead warlock.
The scene: My ret paladin, warsong gulch, alliance tunnel. Myself versus a hunter and two ret paladins.
I’m currently exposed in the tunnel, a survival hunter at the top of the tunnel ramp and two ret paladins bearing down on me. Impossible odds. I duck right, out of LOS with the hunter, popping a quick FoL off before the rets are on me. I retreat, the hunter doesn’t follow, so I go out into the open to fight the two rets.
The draenei paladin is in deadly glad gear with the 219 axe from the Black Knight. The human paladin is in significantly better gear, 1800 rating relentless sword better gear.
Quick question. How do you beat someone in melee if their melee is way better than yours? Simple. Don’t.
The plan: if at all possible, avoid being in melee range of either ret paladin at all times. Fight using judgement, most likely every Art of War proc will be needed for healing. Use DS only when both paladins are close enough together for me to hit both of them. Judicious use of freedom (it counters JoJ), hammer, and repentance. Hit the draenei first, it’s a lot easier to fight a good player one on one if it actually is a one on one fight.
Both paladins seem extremely confused by my strategy, constantly running into melee range, then stopping for a few seconds before chasing me again. Almost as if they expect me to stay in melee range, you know… being a melee class and all.
Draenei paladin is dropping like nothing. So far, I’ve landed every DS on both of them every time, they’ve missed every single one of theirs. Learn to circle strafe guys!
Draenei pops Lay on Hands. I laugh. Goddamn OP ret paladins! I bubble at 4% HP (autoattack for 5k whut), but only heal myself back to 60%. That draenei needs to die. CC chain on the good paladin (repentance, HoJ, belf silence) while I click off divine shield and go full out melee. Draenei dies, but it cost me. Human pally trinketed out of repentance and nearly killed me.
Low health, low mana, ret paladin mirror match, except he’s got better gear and weaponry than I do. The plan? Just stay out of melee range, attacking via judgement only. Using Art of War procs, get myself back up to full, then simply delay long enough for hammer to come back up.
Wings + AP trinket + Hammer = dead ret paladin.
I win, and I’m left wondering why a paladin with an 1800 weapon didn’t freedom HoJ. Maybe I’m blind and it was actually a blue polearm or something.
The scene: Euripedes, arcane shatter spec alone at Lumber Mill, owned by alliance, having just defeated the moonkin/horribly undergeared resto shaman (17k hp) guarding the place.
Half a second away from capping the stupid flag, a warrior charges me out of nowhere. Damn it, I hate it when they do that. Night elf warriors… I swear those dudes just stealth and watch you, waiting for the best worst possible moment to enter the fray.
Whatever, sheep the warrior, it lasts 10 seconds, capping the flag takes 8. I got this. Aaaand there’s a trinket, and ow, that was 70% of my hitpoints just now. Friggin PvE geared raiders.
Root the warrior, keep slow up at all times, bounce ice lance off spell reflect, throw in the odd arcane barrage so maybe he thinks I’m actually trying to beat him. Just stay the hell away from him, that’s the plan.
Poly DR wears off, I throw a full duration poly on him, and evocate. Pop AP; a couple 11k frostbolt crits later and it’s all over.
The scene: My warrior, 30-39 bracket, versus another warrior of equal level.
The opposing warrior is at full health, I’m at 40%, having fought fierce fights. No horde anywhere to be seen, but there’s a few rezzing soon, including my healbot druid.
The plan: sword and board, kite the opposing warrior back to the graveyard. When my healer’s back, bust out the arcanite reaper and put this warrior down.
Hamstring the warrior, thunder clap for the melee attack speed reduction (I probably don’t need it, but why take the risk?), waltz away from him while he follows me like he’s trying to fight a frost mage. No juggernaut yet, can’t charge in combat. Combat drops, I charge him first, refresh hamstring and thunder clap, again running away. I see him swap to Fury stance, which means an intercept is coming right up. I pop shield wall.
He intercepts, and the followup heroic strike/overpower combo hits me hard enough to have killed me had I not used shield wall. Hamstring, run away, intercept him myself for the stun and keep running. Druid’s respawned and is on his way, but I still need to buy some time. I pop Intimidating Shout.
PHOOM oh I have never been so glad to see a Healing Touch. 16% health, jeez. Disarm the warrior, bust out the 2H, he goes down like a sack of potatoes.