Positioning correctly is one of the most important things in PvP. Being in the right spot at the right time can make you survive what otherwise would've killed you, or get you an opportunity to finish the game. Some examples of excellent use of LoS are healers line of sighting CCs, Melee line of sighting casted damage, or Warlock staying in range of his port to get away in time.
Today I’ll be talking about positioning in PvP from the melee perspective.
You don't want to be this Warrior!
So what makes a melee character have good positioning? This is dictated by many different factors, some of the most common ones being:
- What is your spec and role?
- Who are you playing against?
- The situation. Are the enemies using offensive cooldowns, or are they low on health and playing defensive? Are they trying to lure you in a bad spot?
Where are some of the general positions a melee should be in?
- Being right on top of your opponent
- Line of sighting with healers
- Kiting towards your healer
- Kiting away from your healer
The basics for a melee's positioning begins at #1. Just being where the opponent is. This is often most underestimated way to be in the right spot and deal the most damage, since if you aren't in melee range you can't use most of your abilities. However, sometimes this isn’t the best choice. There are many situations where you don’t want to be in range of the other team at all. Melee players at lower rating have a tendency to always position right on top of their opponent. This can be a huge problem.
Many melee players tend to get into a tunnel damage mode, and don’t want to back off. In other words they “Realz”. Understanding when this is right and wrong can drastically change how good a player is.
It may be the primitive basics of a melee to be in range to do damage, but in arena that alone doesn’t cut it. You have to pay attention to your healers as well. Not being in range of healers or not considering what is happening to them is one of the most common mistakes people make as a melee characters. It’s also not just your healers. You have to pay attention to your other teammates in 3s / 5s as well. If your other DPS is getting kited or CCd it’s usually not good to overextend your positioning and keep on staying in position #1. So when should you use position 2, 3, and 4?
A basic example:
Vanguards is playing versus a team of casters. The team of casters pulls back against Vanguards' team as the game starts. However, they manage to land a full Crowd Control on Sodahs (Disc Priest) as they head back.
Good and bad ways to move
Unless the situation is such that Vanguard's team is very close to a kill, for Vanguards to chase the enemy team would likely be the wrong choice. Vanguards would be line of sighting Sodahs, and most likely end up out of range too. This effectively CCs Sodahs longer than his duration of CC. Also taking damage while your healer is CCd automatically puts you behind. This kind of “Realzing” is bad.
So what is the right choice here? Where should you position?
Some things to consider when your teammate is CCd; who are you against and your situation. Who you’re against? Two casters that have high burst cooldowns. Your situation? Your healer is CCd and the casters are trying to lure you into a horrible positioning. This is when melee players need to make the right play, and go into the right position. It’s time to line of sight. It’s time to do position #2.
Awareness and Positioning
Pay attention to other things!
Awareness will be the key to having good positioning. In my last example, a melee with good awareness will notice his healer is Crowd Controlled and position himself out of line of sight of the enemy team. As a melee fighting any ranged damage you should always try to be ready to line of sight. Don’t worry about topping the arena damage charts, those don't matter when you lose. As soon as your healer communicates he’s CCd or you see those ranged DPS use offensive cooldowns or on use trinkets, get ready to run and get into an position where your healer can have a easier time to heal you and line of sight that damage.
However, this is when things get tricky. So when is it right to be tunneling something down? When is it right to run into two casters' faces? When is it right to run away from your healer rather than running to them? How would you position against other melee?
This is what makes PvP so awesome. Everything is situational. Nothing is truly scripted. While it’s most likely bad to run into two casters on Ruins of Lordaeron, it’s not always true. I mean how can you score a kill if all you do is run away?
Points to Consider for Positioning:
- Cooldowns. Do you have your cooldowns up? Do you have cooldowns such as Cloak of Shadows, Divine Shield, Shield Wall, Shamanistic Rage, Anti-Magic Shell or Barkskin to get yourself out of an iffy situation? Is that even enough?
- If you don’t have your defensive cooldowns it’s probably not a good idea to get into a position where you line of sight your healer or go out of range of him. Not having a big defensive cooldown and running in when your healer is CC’d or running out of range is going to kill you.
- If you don’t have your offensive cooldowns it’s probably not even worth it to risk your defensive cooldown. Say you do have Cloak of Shadows or Divine Shield up, but you don’t have Shadow Dance, Avenging Wrath, or Recklessness up. Is there even a point to run out of range of your healer to deal some small amount of damage? No!
- You have to consider the enemy cooldowns as well, is forcing a Warlock to port making you lose Divine Shield or Avenging Wrath worth it? Does the other team have a Discipline Priest to Mass Dispel Divine Shield, or a Rogue to Disarm you before you Shield Wall? Do they have the offensive cooldowns to follow up on that?
- This is still just the glimpse of what you should consider for cooldowns. Basically be aware! Know your enemy, know yourself and win a hundred battles. Learn the important cooldowns and buff icons for every class, learn what your teammates are capable of doing, and make the best choice for every situation.
- Health. A simple enough thing to judge. If the enemy is at full health and you have low health it might be a good idea to just line of sight, or else you're likely to lose the game right there. On the other hand, if you're high on health and the enemy healer is about to die, it might be worth it to try to go for the kill.
- Opponent's positioning. Are you having a hard time landing CCs on that Shaman hanging in the back throwing heals on your opponents? Maybe it is time to pull back behind a pillar and lure them in. Luring people in out of line of sight of their heals is the same as CCing the healer himself!
- When to run into your healer, when to run away. It’s not always good to run into your healer when your healer is CC'd. This can just lead your healer to eat more CCs as your opponents follow you! This point depends a lot on your opponent's class and their cooldowns. Running into your healer against a Warlock with a full non-dr Howl of Terror ready is probably not a good idea. Running into your healer and bringing him within cyclone range is a horrible idea versus Feral Druids. (I learned this the hard way!)
- Kiting and Ranging. When is this the right choice? This is especially important when you are focused while playing against other melee teams. As a melee you’re effectively CCing yourself when you’re doing this. But there are times when you have to give up that damage to survive. Ask your healer to Freedom you, ask your hunter to Freedom you, or find a way to get out of slows and kite the two melee as your second DPS sets up his damage on someone else. This is almost always a good thing as it throws the enemy team off guard. Most arena teams these days are very tunnel oriented, if they are on you there’s a good chance they are going to try staying on you even as you kite. Avoiding damage via kiting is just as good as using Divine Shield!
- When to Realz! The fun time as melee. When I say Realz here, I don’t really mean to “tunnel one person.” I mean to tunnel some damage. When is this the right choice?
If your healer is not CC’d and you guys' health is topped off, this is probably a perfect time to blow some offensive Cooldowns and Realz. There’s a reason why you see so many melee cleave teams start off with huge CDs. It’s usually because melees don’t get these opportunities too often, and they might as well use the opening seconds of the game to get the most pressure out.
Even if your healer is sitting in a full CC like in my example in Ruins, it’s not always wrong to Realz. If your opponent is extremely low on health, and you have all the right conditions from my above points (cooldowns are up etc) you should still go for the kill.
- Taking advantage of the enemy's weakness. Are you a melee cleave fighting a team with little peels for their healers? A situation like that is the perfect opportunity to get on the enemy healer and to kill him as quickly as possible as the enemy team won't have many tools to peel you.
- Mind games. It’s not good to do the same strats and be in the same positioning all the time, and I’ve noticed this to be particularly true with melee teams. If you’ve been fighting the same team 50 times throughout the season, you need to change your strategies over and over again unless your team is a lot better than the other team and you also counter them. Get in their heads, Realz their healer down once game, overextend your position all the way and go for the gold. Run in throw a stun, use big offensive cooldowns and kill their healer one game. Play passively and smart the next one. Line of sight hard. Run in stun him, pretend like you're going to kill him to make him trinket and instead run away and reset, and be in position to LoS until your stun comes back up. Play with your enemy, get in their head. If your enemy makes little mistakes, force them to make more, capitalize on being ahead on cooldowns and use your hard gained momentum to win the game.
The best choice may not always be the same, as that’s what makes PvP so fun. Make sure to always be aware of the situation around you, be ready to line of sight those Cyclones or Frost Bolts, and don’t line of sight your healers when you’re low on health! Know when to get into a position to tunnel damage, and when to avoid damage from the enemy team. Learn from playing, learn from your mistakes and make the best choice. Position it right!