In 2007 I started playing World of Warcraft. The only other game I played at the time was America’s Army, a first shooter military game developed by the US Army which was designed as a player versus player (PVP) format. That type of playing can be incredibly difficult, both because many players hone their skills to the point where they are nearly impossible for the neophyte to beat and also because that particular game sees a large amount of hacks and exploits that unscrupulous players can use to give themselves an unfair advantage. World of Warcraft, by contrast, gives players the choice of being on primarily PVP servers or on servers that feature player versus environment (PVE) where people play against computer simulated characters. For the first sixty or so levels I played my character almost exlusively in the PVE format.

One day a player challenged me to a duel. I accepted and was beaten in the most humiliating fashion. Two things became clear: one was that the style of PVE play I was used to did not at all work in player versus player and two, my reliance on mouse clicking on spells was not nearly fast enough to manage in PVP. I played in PVP battlegrounds but never seemed to be able to rise above terrible so I mostly resigned myself to playing PVE.

About a year or two after I started playing I was at a friend’s house playing the game when one of his neighbors started talking to me about the game. This guy clearly knew his stuff and was one of the top rated players on his server which is really hard to do. After watching me play for a bit he had the tact not to come right out and tell me I was bad. Rather, he asked me if I wanted to look at his character. I told him sure and after he logged on and showed me his undead warlock which was epically geared, he showed me something that astounded me. I already was aware that WoW allows player to keybind (assign spells to specific keys on the keyboard) but it had never occured to me to use the numberpad on the right side of the keyboard for this purpose. This guy took his right hand off the mouse and proceeded to play WoW like a piano, with two hands on the keyboard. The sheer number of spells which were now instantly available at any given time was more than doubled. After watching this I completely revamped the way I played the game. As a subtlety rogue the number pad now worked as follows: the 7, 8, and 9 were the home keys for my right hand. The 7 key was assigned to hemmorage, the 8 was sinister strike, the 9 was mutilate. Shift 9 was eviscerate, the / was slice and dice, number lock was kidney punch, * was sap, 5 evasion, 4 was feint, 2 was cloak of shadows and 6 was vanish. + was something that reset all my cooldowns, – was now instantly accessible as deadly throw in case a player disengaged or blinked away from me (hunter and mage abilities). F became shadow dance and so on. Armed with this new style of play I once again tackled PVP and was still regularly beaten, only now not nearly as badly. Eventually though I started to get better and then rose to the level of pretty good. I started to enjoy PVP a lot more.

An unintended result of this was that due to my instant accessibility of all these spells I also got better at PVE. I downloaded an addon that allowed me to see my combo points and suddenly my damage per second (DPS) statistics shot up too. In PVP I began developing strategies to use on specific types of characters and I started using two different specs, assasination for PVE and subtlety for PVE.

Eventually I was comfortable enough to try playing a druid which I used for healing in 5 man dungeons. Again using the number pad, shift 7, shift 8, shift 9, and shift numbers lock became used for targeting targeting players 1 through 4 and I became a legitimate healer. Eventually I became called on for raid healing where I did a passable job. In addition to the rogue and druid I eventually rolled a priest, death knight, warlock, and shaman with similar success. I never became above average with the warlock in PVE but in PVP I’m pretty good. My favorite part is lighting up rogues with immolate so they cannot vanish and casting death coil and fear on them so I can light them up without having them close in on me, strategies I absolutely HATE being used on me when I PVP with the rogue. The end result is that now I don’t actually have a favorite class to use in PVP. I like the rogue, warlock, druid, and priest about equally. The only downside to this is that I never get fully geared with any class since I tend to split time among all of them. The best stats I get, however, tend to be on the rogue. At one point I remember going about 15 and 2 using a rogue in battlegrounds.

Sadly though, doing well in PVP doesn’t result in getting all the chicks at the bar. It’s either that that is a fail strategy or maybe I’m just going to the wrong bars. I will still PVP though because it’s fun. You should play World of Warcraft too and maybe the next time a rogue cheapshots you, shadow dances to cheap shot again, vanishes and cheap shots you again, refreshed cool downs and cheap shots you again and then blinds you and then kills you after self bandaging in the middle of the fight, it might be me. Until then, rock on.


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