Watching World of Warcraft: Part 1

BY Andrew Miesner / February 10, 2009

WoW has been derided by many who feel it’s unwatchable, yet millions disagree.  Sodah is here to help you become an informed spectator.

By Alex “Sodah” Ringe, Complexity World of Warcraft Player

I’ve seen a lot of people who don’t play WoW – and even some people who DO play WoW – mention that watching World of Warcraft either makes no sense or is boring. This is because WoW is largely a knowledge based game, but it is also because the spectator mode is a little clunky. Further, there are many tiny little actions that players are making that simply can’t be spotted at all, perpetuating the idea that WoW is “a dumb e-sport.” I’m going to try to inform you on what to watch for and what could be improved to make watching for these things easier.

The current spectator interface displays both team’s portraits and health bars on the top and bottom of the screen. This is what you’re going to be looking at 50% of the time. It displays scrolling numbers (red numbers are damage taken, green numbers are healing taken.) The other 50% of the time, you’re watching the field and seeing graphical animations fly around between players. This is where WoW noobs get turned off – they can’t make the connections between which graphics are doing which red numbers. I’ll start with the easy classes. Warriors, Rogues, Feral Druids, Enhancement Shaman, Death Knights, and Retribution Paladins are all MELEE classes which require very close range to deal damage. They will do consistent damage while sticking next to an enemy target, so their weapon (or claw) swings will correlate quite well with the descent of their enemies’ health bars. 

Melee classes all have their own forms of spell interruption. Generally on a 6-10 second cooldown, these interrupts must be used at the same time a spell is being cast. If the spell caster stops his spell before the interrupt goes off, the spell caster is not considered interrupted and can restart their cast. This is very difficult to watch if you are not well-informed, so if you see a healer or a mage randomly stopping their cast over and over, they’re trying to “juke” an interrupt. Announcers will sometimes call these out for you, generally calling the interrupt a “kick”, “pummel”, “mind freeze”, or “shock.” The most incredible interrupts are the ones used on super fast cast spells – like Fel Dominations. These are 0.5 second casts which you basically have to pre-interrupt before they even start to have a chance at interrupting it. If you don’t know what a Fel Domination is, it’s the spell used by Warlocks to very quickly resummon their dead fel-hunter or voidwalker. I’ll be talking about warlocks later, so if that didn’t make sense TUNE IN NEXT TIME.

So melee classes require being close to their enemy targets, do consistent damage, and can interrupt spell casts. The final primary element of melee classes is thus how they are shutdown. They can be incapacitated, stunned, disoriented, snared, immobilized, frozen, and many other things. Each of these have their own unique ways of being broken by different classes, but if you see a melee not on his target it’s because of one of these things. Let’s say a Priest-Mage-Rogue is fighting a Death Knight-Warrior-Paladin. Often times the warrior will be Frost Nova’d by the Mage (a snare) – or Polymorphed into a sheep (an incapacitate.) A Paladin can remove both of these things as well – so a good Paladin will allow his Warrior to roam free on his targets as he pleases. Keep in mind that things like a snare hurt melee much more than it hurts a ranged class like a Hunter.

SO! Watch out for key interrupts and snares on the playing field! If melee classes are sticking on a target consistently, get ready for his opponent to fall over dead. Flicker your vision between health bars and the playing field so you can get a good idea of who’s under pressure, who’s being controlled, and who’s being interrupted!

I’ve got more crap for you folks to watch out for in a match; related more specifically to caster classes. Also more on what could be changed to make watching this stuff easier – stay tuned for part 2.<–>