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How long does it take to be competent in a class?

April 16, 2010
tags: ,

Caster fail, courtesy of WoWbash

Thinhs I hear flashed around a lot are phrases like Omg *insert class here*, ur doin it wrong, Noob, and of course the infamous Learn to play. It’s generally either aimed at someone who has a fully rounded knowledge of their class and role who just happened to make a foolish/forgetful mistake, or at someone who’s performance is so genuinely appalling that someone feels the need to call them out on it. Unless you know your way round Elitest Jerks, and on from there applying their endgame raiding advice through a fine mesh of common sense (it’s not always the best idea to gem straight Armour pen over Agility as a Marks hunter, thankyou Miss Fae) and on from there to the wealth of helpful information found in the blogosphere. Most people will only have the knowledge of what they leveled with, and as I spoke about the other day, if they were boosted they wont even have that. Generally people are fine with someone like that, but occasionally somebody will decide to tell them where they’re going wrong. (And they’re not always right.) For convenience, I have separated these kinds of people into three categories.

  • People who used to play the class an expansion ago and still think they know everything (Most of the time, fools)
  • People who have/claim to have an 80 alt of the class that the target is playing and assumes he knows it better than them (Annoying people)
  • People who either play the same class as the target or have a definitely active alt / main of that class, who offer valid criticisms in a faintly arrogant way (Bastards You should probably listen to them)
  • I know there are nice people around in PuGs, willing to offer friendly advice that could well help the person a lot. However, these people don’t tend to PuG, because it grinds away at their souls in ways that will slowly iron nice people down into one of the three categories above. S’true.

Having people tell you your buisness isn’t always the most helpful thing in the world to have. People can react badly to being told they’re doing it wrong, especially if the person doing it insults them as they do it. They’re less likely to listen to advice again in the future, and may lash out at any genuinely nice people who try to help them, which in turn will cause the nice people to go further down the spiral of becoming one of the three above. It isn’t pretty.

Luckily 95% of the time the major faults like meleeing casters, Rogues using throw to DPS, and Death Knights using Death Grip as part of their rotation are hammered forcefully out by repeated abuse from party members. It’s the more subtle failings that most people don’t call out because they are so hard to spot. Things like the Mage’s loss in only stacking his Arcane blast up twice before using his proc, or the Fury warrior not making use of her instant cast Slam when it becomes available. To find out these things, you need to delicately pry apart the meters. Even then, it can be tricky to tell where this person is going wrong. They might not be casting this spell enough, or are casting something too much, or are leaving too much time in between casts, or are letting vital buffs fall off. Every talent tree works relatively differently, and can cause a mighty amount of confusion.

The trouble with Elitest Jerks, which is considered most internet savvy WoW-player’s go-to resource (I get this from people I’ve talked to, it seems to be the one and only thing that most people check) is that while their advice is all well and good, BUT unless you read the compendiums (not avaliable for every spec and even then rotations are sometimes skipped over) the whole affair assumes you already know how to play the class, and just need a few tweaks to maximise dps. I’ve seen PuGs in full t9/t10 and correctly TEG’d* (Hurrah) that are still pulling weak dps. It may be a while before someone point out to them that they should be using Howling Blast after their Rime AND Killing Machine Procs. And that someone would have to be very on the ball.

Depending on the individual concerned, it may take anything from a few weeks to a few years to become fully competent in their class and spec. And classes and specs can change a lot in that time. I like to think of myself as a good Paladin, but I’m not good with the numbers. I gemmed intellect from ToC onwards, because everyone else I saw was doing it. It wasn’t till early ICC that I felt the need to sit down and work out WHY I needed to do this, and how it was tied to the 30% of intellect as Spellpower talent (and therefore a sufficiently Spellpowerful trinket can replace a low Intellect one with only a small mana pool loss, among other things.) I’ve been playing Paladin for just coming up to a year now, and I feel that whilst I know a lot about the three specs, there’s still much much more in terms of ‘why what numbers do what’, ‘stat modifiers’ and so on that I just don’t have a clue about, and probably never will.

I think Blizzard have noticed this. These changes designed to simplify stats seem to have offended a lot of people. I love it. It shortens the margin for error. There’s a lot to learn when making a new character, and gear and talents being more intuitive and sensible is a great way to go about improving the system. As for teaching people how to play, the hit and miss and learning through mistakes method isn’t going to change. I doubt Blizzard will put in class tutorials. I doubt many new players would read them, even if they did. How well do you think you know your class?

-Zal

*Talented, Enchanted, Glyphed/Gemmed. Read my PTR post.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 17, 2010 2:53 am

    There aren’t many instances when I think someone is playing THAT bad to warrant telling them to L2P or even offering “OMG THIS IS MY MAIN” type of insight.

    Though I do recall one instance where, and I believe I handled it with the utmost sincerity, as to why a hunter in UK at Level 71 wasn’t using an aspect. When she replied she didn’t think it was necessary, I used my knowledge to explain the purpose of aspects, which ones will give her the most benefit, and what to expect in a few levels & at Level 80 -> Aspect of the Dragonhawk.

    Teaching someone something or offering a tidbit of advice as you mention in the post is all about the way in which it is given.

    Great post 🙂

    PS. Grinding heroics does in fact eat my soul.

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