Confessions of a ranged DPS

For the past few days, I have been trying to gear up my level 100 combat rogue a bit. It’s been an enlightening experience, I must admit. Before I go on, let me point out that:

  • This is my first and so far only max-level melee character.
  • He is my only existing male alt.
  • I only decided to roll a rogue out of spite, because I have vowed to not play SV hunter in Legion, having said that if I wanted to play melee I would have rolled a rogue. So I kind of felt I had to…
  • I boosted him to 100 once I got to level 60.

So, basically, this is a class that I have absolutely zero idea how to play, and that for the most part has never interested me. But I found I was intrigued by the play style while I was doing his basic leveling, and so with some time on my hands lately, I decided to try and get to know it better. I visited icyveins to get some pointers on talents, glyphs, rotations, secondary stats, etc. and then headed off to put in some quality time with the target dummies.

My plan was to gear him up as best I could with Baleful and crafted gear before venturing into instances or LFR. This turned out to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. It took me two days to wade through the pros and cons of dual wielded weapons, specifically how to deal with the varying opinions on main hand versus off hand weapon speeds. In the end, though I doubt it will make any real difference at my level of play, I went with having 3 crafted weapons — two slow ones and one fast one — and making a Blade Flurry macro that switches to MH fast/OH slow when I engage BF. Otherwise I opt for slow weapons in both hands. I really have no clue if this is useful or not, and I note that Ask Mr Robot always wants to insist I equip the fastest weapons in both hands, but I am ignoring him.

(Of note, the fiery visual effects of Mark of Warsong on my dagger/axe/hammer are undeniably cool!)

The rest of initial gearing was uneventful. I used up my stash of Baleful leather gear and got maybe 3 optimal stat combos, the rest are sub-optimal but still a vast improvement over my boosted green 640 set. I had enough apexis crystals to put all my Baleful gear up to 695, but haven’t upgraded them any further as I don’t have much valor yet. My weapons take up 2 of my crafted slots, and I am still debating about the best use of the third. My helm is my only remaining green, so I may go with that. There is also the conquest PvP route for some useful gear — I already used that trick on my second ring, and may go that way for a helm, not sure yet.

My next challenge was to finish silver proving grounds so I could start on my legendary ring. This, too, proved more complicated than I had anticipated. I have said before that PG have dismally failed as a concept that had a lot of potential, and I have pooh-poohed them as a useful gate to heroics. But I am not so sure after my recent experience there.

Recall that for silver, you have to defeat 8 waves of mobs in timed sequences. I had spent enough time with target dummies that I had no real problems with the first 6 waves, but the last two stymied me for quite a while. (Hours, not minutes, but beyond that I am too embarrassed to say…) I have to admit that the process I went through to finally finish really did help me to become more proficient with my rogue, especially with movement mechanics. So I suppose for someone clueless as to how to play their class and spec (like I was), PG do have some marginal utility. But the key word is “marginal” — there are more efficient and less frustrating ways to teach class basics — and I see that Blizz, realizing this, just announced there will be no PG in Legion. Yay.

So, armed with my huge 689 ilevel and PG-induced overconfidence in my proficiency, I ventured into Sky Reach normal to complete the initial part of my ring. My gear level carried me through easily.

Putting off the round of three required heroics for the next ring step (I detest 5-man pugs), I decided to jump into HFC LFR. The experience was not bad — at least I did not get kicked for disgraceful DPS, and no one even made any snide remarks — but it certainly gave me a completely different view of every boss and trash mob.

Really different.

The thing that was especially enlightening is how much less of the fight I could see and/or keep track of as melee. I am used to ranged after all, and especially with mobile hunters you can see pretty much everything that is going on in a fight. What I mostly saw as melee was butts. Butts and distracting seizure-inducing visuals cluttering up my whole screen. I found that I needed to keep my camera at a fairly close distance in order to see my rogue and determine if the boss or my targeted mob had turned and was now behind me instead of the other way around. I could not tell if I was doing any damage at all if I couldn’t see myself, but in order to do so I had to zoom in so far that I almost couldn’t see anything else.

Maybe this will change as I get more melee experience, but I did not like the effect. I have always had a lot of respect for melee fighters, and now I have even more. I still think ranged damage dealers have the easiest time of anyone both in groups and solo, which is why I am puzzled as to why more damage dealers don’t select ranged.

The other big thing I noticed as melee is that if the tank is not especially competent and cannot keep the boss away from fire, melee has almost no place to go. Tanks may survive standing in bad, but melee — especially leather melee — not so much. The choice is run out of melee range in order to survive or keep hitting and hope you can find a safe couple of pixels and that the healers have good aoe heals for the melee group. (Which reminds me, I may experiment with sorting my Healbot groups into ranged and melee on my healers, might help me respond better to boss mechanics.)

Anyway, I will probably keep at my rogue, even though combat spec will morph into outlaw spec, greatly changed, in Legion. (I seem to have a gift for picking specs Blizz hates and feels compelled to drastically change every few months…) Though I don’t think I will ever be a great fan of melee as a play style, I am definitely benefitting from getting a different perspective. This can only make me a better ranged damage dealer, I think.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to Confessions of a ranged DPS

  1. Grumsta says:

    My first character was a Fury Warrior and I experienced all of the issues you mentioned above. I made it even worse for myself by having the camera zoomed in and playing more first-person like I was used to from Quake and Morrowind. I died rather a lot.

    I only got my head around playing properly zoomed-out third-person when I switched to playing my Mage. It’s probably why I love my Mage so much: as fragile as he was, the game play was so liberating after my clunky melee dwarf and his endless vista of knees and butts.

    The only advice I can give you as melee is to install GTFO and zoom your camera out as far as you’re able to.

    The melee circle around the boss is likely to be tightly-packed in Legion, what with all the Munters, Dunters and various armies of pets. I can see some melee players struggling with fps because of the amount of pyrotechnics and body parts it’s trying to render in a small space.

    I’m happy to stick with ranged dps tyvm 🙂

    In terms of fight perspective, I’m getting another fantastic and very different experience from playing my Disc Priest, Medikate. I do have to keep reminding myself to heal and not dps, but looking at your raid team rather than just the boss and the adds makes familiar fights interesting and challenging again. Xhul as a healer is a lot more fun for me than rdps.

    I’ve still yet to attempt tanking (outside of a brief foray in the Shamans fight in SoO when we tried the three-tank method), I might just give the Dunter a go with that in Legion…… Just me and 2 million others with that idea I imagine :-p

    • Fiannor says:

      Yeah, I think where I’ll end up is maintaining my rogue for at least the next expansion, but not doing any real raiding with him, unless maybe some guild alt fun runs towards the end. The other reason I want to keep him is that he is my blacksmith, and though I don’t have any plate wearers other than my baby pally, I still like having a full stable of professions. (In spite of Blizz’s stern disapproval of this play style. Or maybe because of it …)

      What would be interesting is a little addon that identified your character in an obvious but unobtrusive way in a scrum. Maybe visible only to you, something like a small arrow above your head that showed which way you are facing. Or a tiny cone depicting the current physical boundaries of your attacks. (I can’t imagine the difficulty of playing a gnome melee btw.)

      Like you, though, I am basically a ranged person and expect to remain so.

      (Actually, GTFO is the only thing that saved my rogue’s bacon in my group endeavors. I don’t think I could function without that addon.)

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