Learn to Play!

Wherever you go, whatever you do, no matter how hard you try, someone will eventually see you screw up and giddily type you a lovingly hand-crafted message deep from the heart of their soul. It will look something like this: “Learn to play.”

No, scratch that. Nowadays, it looks like “lol l2p u fudin retard UGH you fucking failed abortion talents why fudin fudin fudin baddie fudin fudin.”

Learning to play isn’t a bad thing. Learning to play is something EVERYONE has to do at one point. The thing is— you’re going to have to do that, right now, before you even start to do anything else. I’ll level with you: You can totally skip this step if you want. Every single raid guild has ‘that guy’ in it who is a friend of a friend who everyone drags through content, lifting the dead weight like it’s Weekend at Bernie’s. Forcing him to dance. Holding him up to applause. It’s funny until you realize that it’s sad.

If you’re fine with being that guy, skip on. There will be a revelatory moment at one point where someone realizes you are dead weight, and after that, every single thing you did to get to this point will be undone. Good will and friendship will no longer be extended to you as you transform into a social pariah overnight. Whispers between guildies groaning about carrying you through the raid will fly. People will form their own Vent sub-channels. It might even break up the guild.

Either that or you’ll get away with it and they’ll give you [Sylvanas’ Music Box] for all your hard work. You know. Whatever. I’m not bitter.

Learning to play is a two-step process—you read, and then you do. For WoW, knowing is half the battle—just like the G.I. Joes told us. Figure out what buttons you have to press, and press them.

One thing you have to come to grips with is that World of Warcraft is a game that can be simulated by a computer. Other games, especially single-player games, don’t have a “right” or “wrong” choice—whatever looks the coolest is often more exciting and satisfying to us than what’s mathematically best. WoW, in almost all cases, does have a right and a wrong choice; to Maximize your Contribution, you must choose that right choice.

    I can recommend two places to Learn to Play– http://www.icy-veins.com/ is for the beginner who has no idea what’s going on, and http://forums.elitistjerks.com/ is for the guy who has no idea where to begin.

Icy-Veins is a fansite founded in 2011 by Damien and Vlad, a pair of players who wanted to put together a “modest fansite” in their own words. It ended up being one of the largest most comprehensive guides to World of Warcraft available on the internet. At the moment, it’s the place to go to find out what’s going on with your character. Up-to-date experts update their guides for every change, every patch, to make sure you know exactly what’s the best choice for your playstyle and character class. Icy Veins will update you on Talents, Glyphs and everything inbetween. You only have to follow that advice. If you’ve been mashing buttons up until now, Icy Veins is for you.

Elitist Jerks started out as a Horde guild on Mal’Ganis, led by Gurgthock, an orc shaman. The guild’s involvement with WoW and its developers is complex; the devs respected Gurgthock’s opinion enough to not release a raid on the PTR for testing so that the race for world first would be untainted by guilds learning the fights on the test realm. Their guild cultivated a forum of intelligent users that quickly blossomed into the central hub of World of Warcraft theorycrafting on the web. This site is for the more knowledgable new raider—beginners aren’t advised to dig too deep, or it’s possible to get entirely overwhelmed or even misinformed! They don’t dumb down their theorycrafting. That means that if you’re looking for advanced character knowledge like percentage of diminishing return beyond haste cap in comparison to mastery or crit in relation to a specific trinket proc, Elitist Jerks has a two-page thread diversion about exactly that. You just have to know what I just said means, how to relate it to your current character, and dig through a two-hundred page thread on your class and spec… but it’s there.

The majority of classes in World of Warcraft work off of repeated priority-based ability usage, known as a “rotation.” One class’ rotation might be two buttons long, and others could be five or six. This includes “execute”-type abilities that activate on enemies below 20% health as well, mixing and weaving them into the rotation to achieve optimal DPS or survivability.

Knowing your rotation is very important for every character. The difference between holding threat or doing great damage is minimal when it comes to applying your skills and cooldowns in the most optimal fashion.

For healers, you’re handed a small toolbox and told to get to work. Follow advice and be ready for the ride—healing is more improvisational than any spec. While a Tank or a DPS character can always rely on a boss using the same abilities or making the same movements at certain times, a healer can never rely on their party members responding the correct way to a dangerous effect. You’ll be working with much less than you want sometimes and other times, far more than you need. Your goal is to even it all out—keep a heal ready and keep your eyes open. Unlike everyone else—you don’t get a target dummy to practice on.

The reward for all that hard work? People are BIG fans of great healers. You won’t ever need to beg for a guild group again once everyone knows you’re dependable.

    Once you know what your rotation is… practice! Test it on dummies—test it on critters. Use it in dungeons, use it while farming, use it while doing anything. Test it out, feel it out and commit it to memory. Tanks will have a maximum threat rotation, and DPS will have a maximum damage rotation. Get used to doing it on the move, pausing it to use utility when needed, and practice kicking.

“Kicking” is interrupting, just to be clear. (So you don’t see “Kick the healer!” in chat in a raid and think you’ve done something wrong… and then spend the rest of the run shouting expletives at your party members.) Kicking is a valuable skill; many casts require a split-second decision and you to pay some attention. You can kick everything, or only kick what matters—and knowing what matters is important.

In Warlords of Draenor, most mobs can be kicked, but many of them hide their important casts with ignorable damaging attacks—and wasting your kick on one of those might spell doom for your group.

Always have an interrupt ready at a comfortable