Monday, February 7, 2011

Anticipation and dread

I'm looking forward to 4.06, not least because I'm going to be swapping back to being Marksmanship mainspec, I think. The longer I have to see it, the more I dislike the cobra shot animation, and I like all the tools and toys that marks gets (hooray for the disengage sprint!). I'm also dreading it a little bit, though, because I'm going to have to learn to play marks at least decently in a very short period of time, since we raid again on Wednesday.

I've been doing a lot of reading on how to play the spec, most especially of Whitefyst's excellent guide on the EJ forums. Cataclysm marksmanship is unquestionably a more complicated spec to play than Survival, especially since the spec enforces a playstyle that splits the fight into three different phases, each of which require different priorities dependent upon your choices for haste cooldowns and glyphs. Of course you don't have to keep all the possible permutations in your brain during an actual encounter: you've already made your glyph, spec, and cooldown use choices by the time you pull the boss. It's still a little intimidating to look at all the possible "cycles" as he describes them and try to imagine myself going through them in the middle of an encounter (and the beginning and the end, yeesh).

Not only that, but one of the goals I've set for myself with this blog is "making it easier," and looking at Whitefyst's post I'm having a hard time imagining how to simplify it without making it less correct. That may be the tradeoff I have to make, though.

To look at it more positively, though, I've definitely found that there's a difference between how people work out the theory and how DPS actually happens in-game. Ability use during an encounter is much more organic than static cycles, and I've found that as I get more comfortable with how I'm playing a spec, my natural playstyle evolves into the correct priorities because those priorities are constrained by focus.

I'll explain that with the example of the Survival spec that's currently dominant. When I first started playing Survival, my ability use was kind of scattered and I often felt like I was playing catch-up with cooldowns. As I played more and more and got used to tracking boss and mob mechanics will continuing DPS, I found that, hey: I'm just naturally squeezing three cobras in between explosive shots. And, since that means that I'm in a focus-positive state over time, I regularly reach a point where I have enough focus to cast only two cobras, replace one with an arcane, and still have enough focus for the ExS as it comes off of cooldown. Neat!

So in part I'm banking on that happening with the Marksmanship playstyle. I'll get a sense for how frequently Chimera shot comes up, how often the ISS haste buff falls off, and just naturally find myself using arcanes to burn excess focus. Then all I'll need will be adjustments to account for Careful Aim and the execute phase and I'll be set. Hooray!

Hopping on the new bandwagon will also hopefully make me excited about writing a marks how-to post, because I would guess that there will be a lot of people that are excited about rediscovering the spec.

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