PTRs and the learning potential… and TEG
The PTR is the Public Test Realm, meaning it’s open to everyone. I’m a fan of the PTR. I have no idea how much it is used for what I use it for. I know generally people will try and copy their characters, or a premade, to see how the latest tweaks to the class, the world, or various dungeons will affect them. People like to see the content before everyone else, like the ICC 5s. Raiders want to test the encounters out before they’re released on live to guarantee a one shot when it hits the live servers. PvP’s come to see the new BGs.
I go to the PTR to learn about the different classes.
Every time there’s a new phase of testing on the PTR, eligible accounts can copy up to 4 of their own characters and 4 of Blizzard’s own premades across to the PTR. Your own characters are exactly as you left them, unless there’s a major talent refit on the PTR in which case you’ll have blank talents. The premades come with dual spec, all the PvP and PvE items they could need, and enough raw materials to gem and enchant their gear how they like. This is a wonderful tool. Every time this comes around, I copy a new batch of 4. (Sometimes they get wiped between phases, sometimes not.) It’s allowed me to test all the classes and specs I’ve thought of leveling to 80, without the bother of getting an alt that high to find out I don’t. For example, Arcane mage always sounded blissfully simple and fun. When I tried it on the PTR, with a fully talented enchanted and gemmed (let’s say TEG for now, that’s a bastard to type) I found it to be tediously dull. I tried a fully TEG Enhance Shaman, and found it to be the opposite – so complicated and so much to bare in mind that I’d panic on every pull and screw it up, pulling a miniscule amount of dps, despite my awesome TEG’dness.
From the PTR alone, I’ve found out I favour classes with a 4-6 button rotation, generally ones that modify each other, but not over complicatedly. A TEG Boomkin was too much for me, I didn’t get the hang of their philosophy of ‘when this is up, do this, now this, now that’s gone do this, etc.’ I liked the Shadowpriest’s weaving rotation, but found it to be ineffective on stuff that died shorter than about 40 seconds (ie everything in heroics) and was butchered by movement. I was a fan of Elemental Shaman, as pictured at the top, with its crashing chain lightning and the need to watch the uptime of Flame shock and totems. I liked the abrupt Fury Warrior, with the two weapons and their wrecking-ball like approach to melee Damage. I’m never going to be good with Rogues, I had trouble pulling 2k dps with a TEG rogue of any spec. I found out that I was still reasonably good at Retribution Paladin thanks to a TEG premade (when on live, Zal was Holy/Prot) and vowed to give it another try.
I’ve used a lot of what I’ve learnt for good – I’ve been able to help people with what I remembered (at least with the classes I played well with) and I’ve levelled a Fury Warrior and an Elemental Shaman to the Outlands. Why not give it a spin! It’s free (as much as your downloading the PTR will cost anyway) and you might find yourself a lot happier because of it!
I’ll tell you something as well. Zal might not exist if it weren’t for the PTR copy ability. Meet Flebsworth. I grabbed a premade Draenei Paladin late on in my Horde Death Knight days, to see how I’d like to heal as the most awesome race. I absolutely loved it, and made a Zal on the live realms. I eventually went back to him with my friend, and we joint levelled them. So being able to test how much I’d like the Draenei Paladin with a Naxx level (best there was at the time) TEG character was invaluable. Say thank you to Mr Flebsworth. And it’s only because that was taken on Terenas at the time that I’m now signing off as Zal, rather than Fleb. I think I rather would have changed it now, but still.
Try it yourself, the next time the PTR is up. Go learn something for me, and be happier!