The last time I seriously tried playing a Warlock was in BC. Closer to the end of BC even. I did not have a lot of time to learn the ropes, but I was able to glean enough knowledge to know that top DPS was achieved by speccing 0/21/40, sacrificing your minion for the shadow buff, and spamming shadow bolt. That was it. That was top DPS on end game. PvP was similar in that the successful spec was Siphon Life/Soul Link. Of course this was back when you didn’t have to put a minimum of points into a talent tree.
I don’t remember what “the spec” was in Wrath. Affliction? Demonology? I think Demonology but I don’t remember. I still wanted to play Destruction. I loved Chaos Bolt. The only problem was I did not play a Warlock seriously until the end of Wrath. By then, I wasn’t interested in raiding, just leveling professions and farming Argent Tourney mounts. I ran a few dungeons, just to gear up. I remember learning the ropes of the proper rotation, watching for procs, etc. I did alright, held my weight for DPS at least, but I felt like I had to relearn my rotation. It was not as simple as spamming shadow bolt anymore, but it really didn’t matter. I didn’t pick him up again until closer to the end of Wrath.
If you’re sensing a trend, you would be correct. And, would you look at that, we’re almost done with Cataclysm. Guess what that means? If you guessed “Ex is picking his warlock up again…” you guessed right. Which means that I have to, again, re-learn what I’m supposed to spec for, what my rotation is, what my optimal gear weights are, etc. Now, this is partly going away for Mists, as the talent trees as we know them now are being phased out for nicer, friendlier, and potentially more fun trees. But I will still have to re-learn my optimal gear weights, rotation, etc., and this got me thinking.
People evolve. Games evolve. Especially multi-player games, where mechanics are constantly balanced and rebalanced, or completely changed. People change what they want, what they need; they adapt. You could even argue that games must learn from people, and maybe people the games.
Learning is tricky. For some, it comes easy; mechanics may be easy to understand for some; or they use external sources to learn how effectively play the game. In a game like WoW or LoL, with flexible mechanics and balance, external help almost becomes mandatory to succeed. While WoW constantly takes steps to curb this, inevitably most people at least browse guides or forums for advice; or they at least ask someone for help.
Others may not be so keen on using external resources to play a game. I have a friend, we’ll call them F. F has recently shown interest in running LFR with me. F plays a frost mage. F has a low iLevel, so F has to run lower dungeons before they can run the Twilight heroics. F knows how to use external resources to improve their play and become more knowledgeable, but they don’t feel they should have to use forums or EJ or whatever to do dungeons, raid, or even nail down their rotation. F just wants to use Frostbolt on ALL the things. While I sympathize with F, I understand that until the game changes, like the talent tree revamp coming in Mists, we will all need help. So while I can offer some advice, I feel I do not have enough knowledge to help F, or our groups, succeed.
Most people know I quit WoW right after Cata. F does. PuGs don’t, though. I should take some time to learn more of the mechanics, more about my toons’ rotations, etc. Fortunately for me, I have had the company of patient, knowledgeable friends. F has me. So while I can help F gear up for Twilight heroics, I feel I am not contributing much to groups, save for DPS. There’s not much else I can do aside from improving myself. I cannot make F do anything they aren’t interested in, and likewise. So if F is really set on running LFR and sharing a hobby with me, they will probably have to do some research of their own.
This leads to two scenarios, the way I see it. In one scenario, F learns their rotation, spec, gear priorities, fight mechanics, etc. They apply their knowledge as best as they can, and pewpewfrostboltftw. The other is that they go on doing what they currently are, and potentially get carried to success by others. That isn’t to say that F doesn’t know the basics, like standing out of the fire, etc. They are by all accounts a good player, but I wonder what would happen if they applied themselves more to learning more than the basics. This leads me to wonder if I could do better, learn more about my characters, improve my play. This doesn’t apply solely to WoW; even though I rarely play LoL these days, I am at a disadvantage when I do, as I forget how to CS effectively. In all aspects of my life, I wonder if I could lead better, communicate better, listen better. I feel I have the capacity to achieve much, but I don’t apply myself enough to go beyond success.
I remember when I first tried to learn WoW. I imagine I felt like most noobs feel; lost, terrible, unskilled, unwanted. With time and a shift in attitude, I improved my play. I was praised, desired for groups and my guildies at the time. The hard work ended up paying off, and truth be told it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. If only keeping that positive mindset worked all the time, or was that simple. Like many others, albeit diagnosed or otherwise, I fear failure, rejection, public ridicule. I don’t let myself believe that I can achieve anything. I have trouble trusting most with anything, and take advice with a grain of salt. Most people do this. It’s frightening out there, enough for me to use external resources beyond the scope of gaming.
I’m learning to be patient, to use the resources I have available, to get help to be a better person; not just in gaming, but in life. I want that for myself. Every new challenge, new toon, new role, new encounter, new mechanic, new rotation, new relationship; there’s always something to learn. Keeping an open mind and patient heart helps, but I have to choose to accept the help if I need it. We all have to choose for ourselves; to learn, to evolve, to succeed, both in game and in life. As I’ve said before, we aren’t alone in this, and together we can achieve OVER 9000 and more.