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PTRs are here again

May 23, 2010

Hurray! I’ve encountered a problem recently. I’ve had times where scheduled raids haven’t run, due to a lack of people (meaning we can’t do something else). Now that I’ve cut my arena time back a lot, being frustrated with the harsh penalties for losses, there seems precious little to do for Zal. He’s done all the high level Northrend quests for the Lore and Gold. He’s maxed out the Argent tournament. He’s got every reputation I’m interested in maxing – that has either a shiny tabard or some other nice reward for being Exalted. I’ve been half heartedly running TBC heroics, but it’s lonely and slow. It’s doable, mind, nothing like a Tankadin for grinding through content (although the Abysalls at the end of the Heroic Arcatraz are a pain in the arse, soaking a groupwide meteor strike ain’t fun). And I’ve only being doing that as something to do. I’m not that bothered about completing the Rep for the factions linked to the dungeons. The only thing left is PVP. I’ve lamented before how miserable being a healer in a BG can be, with either the fully maxed out people who take care of themselves, hybrids same again, or PVE geared folk getting two shot before I’ve reached the holy shock hotkey. Seeing as I had these problems, I rooted around for something else to do. And lo and behold, I find my new toy.

I get delivered a PTR (apparently it’s been up a little while, I think I missed the memo.) The main purpose of which, this time around, is to test the Ruby sanctum and (shudder) the RealID system. But meh, they have many people willing to do that. Previous times I’ve TEG’d a character and battered the hell out of a training dummy until my recount gives something respectable. Sometimes I’ve run several heroics or battlegrounds. I thought this time, I’d experiment in a different way. I copied across 2 premade slots. I did a Paladin (because that’s my nearest option on the live servers) and a Warlock (because nothing annoys me like fighting a Warlock). I got them correctly TEGd for PvP, and gave them a whirl.

Retribution Paladin suffers in PVP. Their two stuns don’t work in a group – magic is very fast to be dispelled. They can be kited like nobodies business, something I’ve never dealt well with. They have a lot of damage potential on single target, but I’ve found they can be crowd controlled and nuked before this can come into effect. After losing a Warsong Gulch and an Arathi Basin, and having had a thoroughly dull time of it (spending 90% of my time either controlled, kited or dead) I gave up on that. I know what playing Holy PvP is like, so I didn’t even bother with that. I deleted the character, sighed, and moved onto the Warlock.

In my TEGing process I gave the Lock an Affliction spec, because that was the one I found most annoying to face in arena. (Destruction has good burst potential and an annoying stun, but the healing, fear, silence & damage lashback on Unstable affliction and the massive line of hard to dispell debuffs made Affliction the one I wanted to try.) I entered a battleground. I didn’t come out for a long time. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed PvP so much since my early days as a Hunter. Actually having fun bouncing round the BG’s is not something I’ve ever had on my Paladin, and the older memories seem to have been suppressed; this opened Pandora’s PvP Box again. This experience was even better than my Huntering days, I found. The rotation was fast and easy to apply, I was highly mobile, I had a pet that successfully f-ed over anything that tried to cast at me, and I could chain fear practically anything till my DoT’s had done their evil work. In one little Gnome lock, I’d found a new love of PvP. Sure, I died sometimes, often when facing annoying odds. But it felt right. I could hold my own against up to three Relentless geared 80s, with fast uses of Fear, Death coil and the aoe fear Howl. Not in an overpowered way, either, it felt like I was having to work to do what I was doing. A lot of my tactics involved clever use of a spell I loved so much I’m devoting a whole three paragraphs to it.

Demonic Circle. That’s right. The Warlock 80 ability (it’s really tragic by the way that you have to wait so long for such a gift, I suppose it makes level 80 special.) If you don’t know what it does, and you didn’t click the link, it comes in the form of two spells. One to place the circle, one to teleport to it. You can put it down somewhere with a quick cast, and then Teleport back to it from within 40 yards. You can’t do it whilst stunned, which is a shame, but it’s wonderful otherwise. You teleport from wherever you were to where you placed the circle. I’ve had it described to me as a reverse Blink, but it’s so much more than that.

Take Strand of the Ancients, a BG that cropped up several times for me. I can play no end of tricks on the Horde with it, simply by placing my circle on the top of the wall, next to the turret. That way, I can jump down, and if whilst down their I get attacked, pop back up again instantly. If the wall is broken, and an melee enemy runs up the steps behind to kill me, I can jump off – he will follow and I will teleport back up. The kiting possibilities are endless. In Warsong Gulch, I placed the Circle at the mouth of the tunnel into the Horde base on the upper floor. I entered the building, jumped down, took the flag. A stealthed kitty druid and a Rogue leaped out of hiding. I ran down the lower tunnel, with them hot on my tail, and then… Circle teleport, I’m upstairs. I run off, unhindered. Even if they worked out where I went, they would have had to run back up the tunnel and round the stairs to get to me, by which time I was long gone.

A further, joyfully tricksy use of it came unexpectedly when I phased back into the world after the BG was over. I found Ironforge under attack. I picked off two passing Druids and a Warrior, and then followed their crowd at a safe distance. After killing the king, they moved onto nuking the bankers and auctioneers, which is rather underhand behaviour. I placed a circle inside the upper floor of a building in the central circle, and then, making sure I knew where I would be within range of it again, ran in and feared the Horde crowd. I killed one Priest with DoTs, and had three melee chase me. I ran down the side corridor. The Paladin popped wings, the Rogue cloak of shadows. They wanted me down. And at a safe point…. a flash of flame, and I’m gone. Minion too. Two of them gave up, and I took out the Paladin with DoTs as he ran by the building on a mount. I don’t think he noticed my debuffs.

This gleeful retelling of the fun of Warlock PvP is just one of the reasons you should play about on the PTR. I would never have known. I’m seriously thinking about making my Cataclysm character a Warlock now. I was more impressed by that fun rotation and nuking and clever use of their unique class mechanics than I have been with anything else I’ve tried, either leveling classes on live or PvE/PvP on the PTR. For PvE, I used to highly enjoy my split Demonology/Destruction spec when I played my Orc warlock, with fire nuking and a felguard – awesome in 5 man dungeons and soloing. I seem to have found a previously hidden Gem.

-Zal

P.S: Don’t know what TEG is? Read moar.

P.P.S: I played around with Pitbull whilst I was on the PTRs, to try an idea I’d roughed out in Photoshop for an optimal Pet-caster UI. From left to right: Pet frame, player frame, target frame, target’s target. It worked a treat in all I did.

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