So after seeing multiple high rated players' stream and movies i realized something; most of these guys have put all their focus into developing perfect strategies but completely neglected their own mechanics.
Now what do i mean with mechanics? It's a term often used to describe a Starcraft players fundamentals such as macro and micro. Koreans have realized how important good mechanics are and of such have perfected how they control the interface of Starcraft. Tasteless has a great 3-part tutorial over at starfeeder, which inspired me to do the same for wow.
Yeah you may look at my ratings and go "OMG SCRUB GTFO" - I'm not going to try and excuse my current ratings, as this is not my only char and also, i have canceled my subscribtion. For the detectives out there go check my statistics on armory, I have been higher rated than this =P
This tutorial will be based on a healer PoV although many of the concepts covered in this could be applied to any class/spec/role.
The good stuff
Most pvp'ers have figured out the limitations of the default layout which is as follows:
wasd = Movement
1,2...0 = spells
F1,F2,F3,F4,F5 = Target party members
Now what most players do is that they change the movement keys. Good start, using "esdf" or even "rdfg" (my preference) frees up keys on the keyboard for quick access to spells.
The next obvious step is to bind "Q", "E" and other keys near your movement keys to spells. The advantage is obvious, it allows to you use all your normal spell binds, but adds 2 extra which are very easily accessible.
However, this still isnt enough keybindings. Some of the players who go to tournaments have 50+ keybinds !. So how do they achieve that? They start using modifier keys (Control, Shift) to their spell binds. They'll have something like Frost Nova bound to shift+q. Lets think about the consequences of doing this for a second. Sure it allows you to have more keybinds, but does it feel natural? Does it feel easy to hit during intense moments of arena? Yeah you can train yourself to use this kind of setup, but above all: MAKE IT EASY FOR YOURSELF. How often have you seen a 2500+ stream misclicking stuff from time to time? You see that constantly, or at least often enough to be significant. I really believe this is because of the modifier key approach, which in my oppinion should be kept to a minimum. "But Azmo, I need all those keybinds" - Yes. Yes you do, and here is how you'll get them back:
Most people have so-called "gaming-mice" these days. These kind of mice usually have more than the normal 2 buttons + mouse wheel. I use the Logitech MX518 in this tutorial as it is the mouse i currently use, but you should be able to figure out something similar with your own mouse.
What you do is you bind 2 action bars to your mice, so you can easily flip between the two. This gives you a massive 12 (!) extra keybinds by sacrificing 2 on your mouse. Not too shabby.
You now have 24 easily accessible keybinds at your disposal, 12 more than the default setup. This is a fair bit away from 50+ keybinds, but a good starting point. Once you've filled these 24 keybinds and you feel like you still need more, try to incoorporate your mouse buttons. Still need more? No other way than adding modifier keybinds, but do it in a clever way. If your normal rotation is "q, 5, shift+q, e" you will find yourself messing up the rotation more than you need to since, as I mentioned earlier, modifier keys are clunky and akward. It would probably be a good choice to replace the "shift+q" keybind with something like "a".
This is the part i originally wanted to discuss so now that we have the basics down, lets get on with it.
I cant tell how many healers use mouse-over macros or click their teammates. DONT DO IT! It is the worst, most newbie thing you can do. It is indeed worse than backpeddling. Even hydra does this is his 7th movie, but he is forced to use the default UI which is horrible for showing debuffs and having your mouse over your teammate is the only way to know all the debuff he has, so lets not take anything away from hydra.
Why is clicking bad? Contrary to popular belief, it is not because of speed. With practice, clicking can easily be as fast as keybinding all your stuff. After all, even with 1 second GCD wow is locked at 60 apm. What really makes the difference though, is the fact that you forgot what should be your most important mantra: MAKE IT EASY FOR YOURSELF. It is not easy to have godlike Toxiq (quake legend) aim and hit those boxes with your mouse during intense battles, and when you are a healer consider how many times during an arena battle you have to switch target. Yeah, it's a lot of times.
Another disadvatange of clicking teammembers is that it takes 100% of your focus/concentration. It is not like you can glimpse quickly at your teammate and then instantly dispel him. With clicking, you have to conciously move your mouse to your partners icon, make sure you hit it, and then you can dispel. Very inefficient to say the least, and remember, targeting people is NOT on the GCD. The amount of stuff you can do while still keeping your GCD constantly on is what makes the difference between a good and a great player. As i said before wow is locked at 60APM with the GCD so the only way to be faster than your opponent is to use everything thats not on the GCD effectively.
How to achieve this? The default layout already takes care of this, with the f1, f2, f3, f4 and f5 keys. Start using them ! It will feel weird at first but trust me: It will not only make you a better player it will also increase the enjoyment you get from playing when everything just "flows" and there is not clucky mechanic holding you back you start to notice a lot more things during the match.
Once you've grown accustomed to this setup you will realize that using the F1-5 keys suffer from the same problem as the modifier keys do: It doesn't feel very natural, especially for me the f4 and f5 keys never became something i could fluently put into my gameplay so here is what i did:
Use your extra mouse buttons for targeting instead of actual spells ! Why? Most spells you would put on your mouse have a cooldown or a cast time and hence does not need to be hit as fast as targeting as spells suffer from GCD and targeting does not.
Here is my current setup which I honestly believe is superior to anything else I've seen:
Mousewheel down: Target self
Mousewheel up: Target teammate1
Mouse sensitivity decrease: Target teammate2
If you have more mouse keys than this, feel free to put in teammate 3 and 4, target focus target, or even an /assist macro.
(When I played warlock i used the mouse for every single pet ability. Attack, pull back, spell lock, devour magic and so on. This was before I got interresting in improving my mechanics and as such I havent done extensive testing with this setup so I'm not sure whether this is the optimal setup)
Almost everyone i've played with uses gladius->right click to focus target people. This is fine at the beginning of the game as you usually have a few seconds to do this before the game really starts off. But as your 2nd most important matra dictates, CLICKING IS BAD, this is obviously not optimal when the game picks up and you need to do it during intense battles.
What I did was to use "½" to make my target my focus target. I didn't use this key for anything else, so why not? I then added capslock to target my focus target (I prefer this to having 50+ focus keybinds. Which is better is hard to determine, 50+ keybinds is probably the way to go if you want to be a pro but for us human beings just going for gladiator and rank1 either is fine).
My keyboard setup
(Note that 3,4 and 5,6 are bound to the same spell to avoid missclicks)
As you can see if you compare this picture with the default one, everything is much closer to the movement keys and therefore more accessible. If you have somewhat big hands as I do, you can easily throw in a few modifier keybinds inthere to increase the amount of bind you have.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on player mechanics, please let me know what you think.
(If you are too pro to read this guide, please just stay away instead of starting a flame war. Thanks)