Tanking for Dummies

To Click, or not to Click: that is the question.
May 20, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Strategy | Tags: , , , ,

Depending on how informed you are, you may be aware there is a substantive divide in the WoW community.  So deep is this crevice that I doubt it will ever be closed.  Blizzard seems nonchalant and unconcerned, unrepentant at the divisions they have enabled.

I am, of course, referring to the use of key bindings.

Proponents of key bindings often speak mockingly to those that do not.  The term “Clicker” is not one of endearment, and though the mouse lovers among us may consider it a point of honor that they click I want to vociferously argue that there should be a place for a key binding or two in your repertoire.

That is not to say that that I want key binding lovers to feel off the hook.  There are certain important features of “Clicking” that may be of use to the elite key-punchers.  Laugh though you may, hear me out (and try it out) – you may find it handy.

Clicking for the Key-Binder

In my experience, most players that use Key bindings use the mouse for two things: Turning and Looking Around.  These two things are based off of the same feature, which allows the player to move the camera using the mouse.  This means that the mouse pointer is often in some sort of never space that it goes while using “Mouse Look.”   To this end, the location of the mouse is largely irrelevant to the Key-Binder, save when it is being used to target mobs.

But I believe that this misses an important opportunity.

If key-binding is all about efficiency of motion (and I believe it is), this misses the potential of the mouse as a kind of “Sixth-finger.”  To visualize this theory, examine your key-punching hand, placing it upon the WASD configuration on your keyboard.  For tanking, you will likely need to have ready access to these movement keys (or whichever you use), so assume that you have access to three fingers at anyone time for most fights.  One of these will likely be working with abilities on the Global Cooldown, so that is presumably tied up.  That leaves us with the abilities of the Warrior Tank which are not on the Global Cooldown:

Cleave/Heroic Strike: Bread and Butter Rage Dumps, one finger is going to be tied up all the time with these.

Taunt: A pretty important button to have ready at a moment’s notice.  Quicker taunts save lives.

Intervene/Charge: Similar to Taunt in utility (and often used in coordination with Taunt), again saving others.

Shield Block/Last Stand: Two of our repertoire of “Oh SHIT!” abilities, definately worth having handy.

Needless to say, there are a number of flinch worthy keys, and I’ll throw in my two cents that there simply aren’t enough fingers on a hand to meet all your needs.

Enter the Mouse, your sixth finger.  Personally, I try to make sure my mouse is hanging around my emergency cool down area so I can tag Shield Block and Last Stand more quickly.  Your results may vary depending on your set up, but I have found it boosts my reaction over all to have it there.

Key Bindings for the Clicker

Dear Clickers, I don’t mean to let you down, but Key-Binders are not going to ever give you any slack on this.  That is okay though, I am not here to make fun of your play style, just hint, perhaps, that you may benefit from mastering a key binding or two.  Because really, I only think there are two things in the game at the moment that demand you understand key bindings.

Heroic Strike: It is your rage dump.  On most boss fights you will be spamming this unceasingly without stop.  Needless to say that failure to key bind this particular ability means that you will not be able to click this and other abilities at the same time.  When I was first altering my play style to include more key bindings, I started with simply making sure that Heroic Strike was bound to the “2” key and just continued hitting constantly without stop.  My TPS doubled, I kid you not.

Vehicular Combat: From a Raid prospective, this is most obvious for the 3rd phase of the Malygos fight, but it could be said to apply to most Combat of this type in Wrath – circle strafing (moving around in a circle while facing a central point) can simply not, I repeat NOT, be done while clicking and it is essential.  More people die to Surge of Power while circling to avoid the Static Field, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this factor is halfway related.  Not only is the interface clunky and confusing, but Flame Shield needs to be hit quickly and quick means key bindings.  Make sure you practice this on Aces High while working on that Wyrmrest Reputation: Make sure you can kill the Drake while moving around him in a circle.

What the Tarsus Does

I will admit I’m a bit of an odd ball when it comes to key-bindings – I actually use a hybrid interface which utilizes both at the same time.

The Left side of the screen is abilities with short no no cooldowns – those are key bind worthy abilities.  The Right Side are “Click” abilities, namely those with longer cooldowns or which are used infrequently (like Commanding  Shout).  My mouse rests just above it to be ready at a moment’s notice.

You could say I have a vested interest in briding the key-binding divide: so give it a shot already!


9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I use some key bindings, but find that I use them more in stationary fights. If I am moving more, I tend to click. Also, I have HS mapped to wheel down and Cleave to wheel up. I can keep rolling the mouse wheel nonstop on fights like patchwerk,

Comment by Darraxus

Having done my undergraduate in computer science, one of the things that you quickly learn is that, in fact, a keypress is almost always faster by an order of magnitude than a mouse click. This is actually something that is scientifically provable; it simply takes less time for your nerves to process “push button” than it does to process “move to spot and push button.” Offhand I believe it is something along the lines of 12x faster at minimum (that is, if we assume that the person clicking with the mouse can automatically move to the correct location without thinking about it or looking at the screen to confirm she has placed the cursor correctly).

It’s not elitism, it’s SCIENCE!

Comment by Yuki

I’m not a major fan of keybindings, nothing wrong with them ofc, I just feel they take the fun out too much and since tanking is 1000 times easier now than in TBC/Vanilla so any edge is a bonus, besides my guild always ask which macros I am using to do and it is a massive bump to the e-peen when I proudly say ‘I do it all manually’

Comment by Beefbringer

You aren’t alone in your oddball-ness there Tarsus, I’m a hybrid keybind/clicker too.

I admit tho that I use the mouse for most of my moving, but with straffing bound to my L/R wheel it works for me.

Comment by Kudos

@ Darraxus – I’ve heard a lot of people use the mouse wheel for that. I’m just used to my “2” key.

@ Yuki – But what if elitism IS science?!

@ Beefbringer – If I could figure out a way to get as high a Heroic Strike/White hit ratio without using macros I would be happy to. I’m also fairly meh on macros, hence why I use keybindings on my spam abilities.

@ Kudos – Alas, my poor mouse does not have a L/R wheel. If it did, I would probably do the same. Strafing while Heroic Striking is possible for me, but I really have to reach for it.

Comment by Tarsus

“To visualize this theory, examine your key-punching hand, placing it upon the WASD configuration on your keyboard. For tanking, you will likely need to have ready access to these movement keys (or whichever you use), so assume that you have access to three fingers at anyone time for most fights.”

For this I highly recommend some type of gaming pad (my personal favorite is the N52te). Having WSAD bound to the DPad on my thumb is a godsend in addition to the 14 or so other buttons right underneath my remaining 4 fingers. The setup is so much less cramped than the traditional keyboard setup and has quite a few more keybinds in that same area. It takes about a week to get used to and to find your personal “ideal” setup, but once you do you’ll never go back. The only problem I have with it is that if I happen to be playing on another PC or go to a LAN and forget it at home then I am almost completely screwed. I’m half the player I normally am if I’m without it.

Comment by Kittoes

Well, the reason why clickers can still exist in WoW is because of the global cooldown. If there were no GCD, clickers would get pwned by keybinders even worse.

Comment by Darraxus

I click. Everything. Well, not quite, but I’m not very good at running with my mouse. I’m not a key-binder. I still run with my awsd! I know, I should be shamed. But I’m not. I’m a healer, and it works out okay for me. My most common heals are right above my awsd. I have to stand still to cast anyways, so clicking usually works for me. Maybe I’ve just gotten really good at it, but I haven’t had any complaints yet.

I know It’s not the best way to play, but it works for me.

Comment by Troutwort

@Kittoes – I used to have one of those called “The Claw” which I used for twitchier games than WoW (Mechwarrior 3 comes to mind). I don’t think that computers even HAVE the port that it used to connect to anymore.

@ Darraxus – You know, that is so true. And here I thought it was just about keeping server communication reasonable.

@ Troutwort – Hey, whatever floats your boat. I’ve not much experience with healing and keybindings so I’ve no real sense of advantages there. All I can say is that keybinding Heroic Strike worked for me.

Comment by Tarsus

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