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Monday, March 03, 2008

PvP for the beginning HK: 11 rules for the starter weasel

It is not unusual for younger or less experienced players to approach me with questions on my PvP experience.

"Allie," they ask. "How can we avoid sucking like you?"

"Well, first it helps to have a functional mouse," I always say, favoring them with a benevolent smile whilst swirling a fine glass of port. "Click-to-move is usually impossible when neither your right mouse button nor scroll wheel actually work. You'd be amazed at the number of problems you can pin on your refusal to replace a relatively cheap piece of equipment. Never, ever, get rid of Mr. Gimpy if you want a ready excuse for being a keyboard turner."

They scribble this and then look at me reverently, hopeful for any additional pearls of wisdom I might drop. However, after receiving so many queries and accidentally mistelling most of them with, "I can tank, but gimme a sec to get rid of this punk who's bugging me," I have decided, in the spirit of all gifted Machiavellians, to preserve my bad advice in a medium more lasting than /w.

For beyond faulty mice, children, we get into more advanced and underhanded PvP tactics...

Now, I do not wish to boast, but my PvP experience has been called by many "an example to others," although they always say this with a funny look on their faces. I managed to avoid PvP almost entirely before hitting 70, but after that realized that arena gear was absurdly good and an easy way to stay defense-capped as a bear tank. Many months and much grumbling later, I have emerged a better, wiser player, though not because I have exhibited anything within shouting distance of talent at actual PvP. Oh, no. What you need, dear player, is the ability to put your strengths to work on the battlefield, and sometimes your strength lies in what the Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams would refer to as being a total weasel:

1. Fool someone who's actually good into signing up for your El Stinko arena team or pre-made.

It helps to be a raider. Running around Shatt in your offspec phat lewtz will occasionally give people the impression that you actually know what you're doing, even when your primary contribution to raids is a "Who, me?" at being told to get out of the fire/avoid the volcanoes/don't move during Flame Wreath/run away from Leo/I told you to get out of the fire/don't Moonfire the sheep.

Failing this, you may need to put in the time and effort to afk in a sufficient number of battlegrounds to get Season 1 gear. See #4.

2. Commiserate over the fact that Armory is still bugged.

"God*****t, I wish Blizzard would just fix their s**t. I had a 2300 rating last week and it's still not showing up! And I'm still "guildless?" Christ."

3. Try to be any of the following: MS Warrior, (Flavor of the Month), (Flavor of the Month), or MS Warrior.

Confucius say, wise man levels class being played by lead game designer.

4. Actual PvP gear helps to perpetuate the illusion that you are competent.

Horde used to have this covered by afking in the "Peace Cave" of AV. Now that the Participation Gestapo is busily sniffing around all corners of the battleground looking for lazy jerks people with a strong-minded opposition to violence and a preference for peace and quiet, it may actually be necessary to afk at a node under the guise of defending it. This exposes you to almost certain periodic death and no small amount of hassle and honor loss while you wait to rez. No one ever said that earning decent gear would be easy! For the Horde! Or whatever else the other half of the game plays, I dunno.

5. Exhibit more frustration with failure than is probably merited.


"You having some computer problems today?"

"Yeah, my right mouse button doesn't work."

6. Find someone who actually does know what they're doing, or is just insanely overgeared, and /follow.

Did you just zone into a WSG match next to a warrior or a shaman in full Season 3? This person is now your god. Hug them. Love them. Stay close to them. You will draw enemies to your weak butt like a moth to the flame, and the self-interest of the Arena God will see to it that they become HK. Your relationship is a special one; symbiotic, almost. Beautiful.

7. Blame your healer.

There is a long and storied MMORPG tradition of blaming the healer whenever something goes horribly, horribly wrong. You're a Mage in Spellstrike who gets one-shot in the first five seconds of the match? LOS'd your pally while a hunter's turning you into a pincushion? Rogue chewing your druid to pieces and you can't be arsed to quit beating his partner?

Just repeat to yourself, in very soothing tone akin to that of Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, that it's not your fault. It wasn't your fault. It's never going to be your fault. And it's especially not your fault the devs didn't give you a heal button. There, there.

8. If you are the healer, blame the dps.

And if they don't like it, they can go roll their own friggin' healer and experience the pleasure of being the immediate target of every yoohoo with a two-hander. Why is all the good healing gear so shiny? Why does the +81 healing enchant leave a glowing, trailing vapor so blinding that an enemy with advanced glaucoma can see you from a mile away? Blizzard should just cut the crap and skin every piece of +heal gear in the game with a giant bullseye instead of taunting us with items like Priest On A Stick.

9. Blame the tank.

Force of habit.

10. Undermine the resident battleground strategist.

Now, you know and I know that the surest means of winning any BG node is a good, old-fashioned zerg. What better way to accomplish your aims in a BG than to descend upon every tower, flag, and individual enemy as a maddened pack of lemmings? Safety in numbers! Your enemy will never have a chance to prove he's better than you are if his life gets snuffed out in less than a second. Nevertheless, there's always that one person in a BG who surveys the map like a latter-day Napoleon and calls out tips that, if obeyed, might actually work.

Two can play at this game. Well-timed /bg posts like "No one's defending mines," "Only one defender at DR," and "All in!" should draw help to your cause regardless of whether your cause is actually worth fighting for at that point (or if you choose to include details on additional stealthed defenders). This is a war, man, and there are casualties! You may be among them but at least you won't die alone.

11. Never forget the importance of being an otherwise useless distraction.

This is the sole weasel tactic of actual strategic value. Anyone who's trying to kill you is someone who's not trying to kill the healer or the player capping the node/flag, and it may be time for you to accept that your most singular contribution to group PvP may be as a kamikaze. Run like a spanked cat as soon as your health hits 30%, and with any luck you'll trail a number of opportunistic sharks oblivious to the fact that someone's in their base killin their doodz.

This article has not been endorsed by anyone on the WoW Insider staff including its writer, and may or may not have been written following a five-cap defeat in Arathi Basin and a 67-minute (albeit successful) WSG match.