Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Living in Fear of the Cooldown

For a long time I always feared using my cooldowns thinking what if I need that later.  The longer the cooldown the less often I used it.  10 minutes, 5 minute, 3 minute, even 1 minute cooldowns all ended up subjected to this style of use.  Why use it now, I might need it later.

I am not sure when it happened for me but I am pretty sure I can tell why.  It took a while but I stopped being so afraid of using my cooldowns and started to learn to embrace them to the point where I use them as often as I can now.

Being a Marksmen Hunter I had an ability called Readiness, with its own three minute cooldown as well, but it reset all my skills for use again.  Having this sitting there waiting helped me get over my fear of using cooldowns because if I needed something again I could always press the reset button so to speak.

Most people do not have the advantage of being a MM Hunter however and still live in fear of the cooldown.  They still question themselves, what if I need this later.  While that is a smart way to think, sometimes, it can hinder you doing the best you are capable of doing.

What is the Fear of the Cooldown?
The fear of the cooldown means not using something because you think it might serve better to use it later.

What is the reasoning behind Fear of the Cooldown?
For most people, myself included, it is inexperience in a fight.  The more you do a fight the more likely you are to understand when to use your cooldowns.  The next big factor is timing.  Many people think of 10 minutes, 5 minutes, even 3 minutes as a long time and do not want to use something and have it be useless for the next xx amount of minutes.

What steps can I take to get over the Fear of the Cooldown?
First step, learn the fight.  The more you do a fight the more likely you are to realize when things are needed or when they are best used.  Don't be afraid to use the cooldown at the wrong time.  A badly timed cooldown being used is better then no cooldown being used at all in many cases.

Second step, learn the timing.  10 minutes is not as long as you might think.  With most dungeons lasting at least an hour and most having around 4 boss encounters that means on average you will encounter a boss every 15 minutes which means that you can use your 10 minute cooldowns every boss if need be.  5 and 3 minute cooldowns even more so.  Even if you are in a great group that is blowing through a dungeon you will usually never get to bosses in less then 3 minutes between them.  You can use all 3 minute cooldowns and not be afraid of not having them when you need them.

Is Fear of the Cooldown limited to long cooldowns?
Absolutely not.  There are some 12 and 20 second cooldowns that people are afraid to use because there might be a perfect chance to use it later.  Sometimes it might actually be to your advantage to not use something that has even a 20 second cooldown because it has a use soon.  Practice is the only way to learn when to use things like that.  Fear of the cooldown can hit any spell you have.

How many people are effected by Fear of the Cooldown?
Even if they do not want to admit it, everyone suffers from it sometimes.  Even the best players in the game are sometimes afraid of using a cooldown when they know they might not get full use out of it or they know they will need it later.  Newer players are, of course, more susceptible to it however.

Can you teach me how to stop Living in Fear of the Cooldown?
I doubt it but I can try and give you some tips that could help.

Learn to tell time:
This is not meant as an insult at all.  When you are playing time seems to fly, even more so when things are going well.  10 minutes could feel like 2 minutes.  Watch the clock and start getting a feel for what the real time is and not what it feels like.

Ever notice when the run is smooth a 40 minute heroic feels like it takes no time even if it is 40 minutes?  How about a fast run that goes less then 40 minutes but there is a wipe or two so it feels like it took longer then it really did?

Playing the game, and what happens during that time, effects how your brain considers time is passing.  The only way to fix that is to become a clock watcher.  Once you start becoming a clock watcher you will notice that 3 minutes is really a short time.  5 minutes is not all that bad.  10 minutes should not even hold you back. 

Every time you look at the clock think of it as if I used this now when could I use it again.  When you see on the clock that the timer is up where you can use it again you might be surprised that only two trash packs where downed in the time that you could have used that cooldown.

Use cooldowns with reckless abandon:
I do not suggest doing this in challenging content but if the content is something where you know it will be easy and not require your cooldowns, using them all the time will help you get a better feel for how often you can use it in a run where you really need to.

As a DPS,  blow your DPS cooldowns on trash even if it is not needed.  Then as soon as it is available again, use it again.

As a tank, if you know your healer is going to keep you up anyway, blow your defensive cooldowns on every pull they are available for.  You will be surprised how often you can actually use them.

As a healer, if you know it is going to be an easy run on your mana, use your mana regen tools and cooldowns as often as they are up.  You will notice that it is not always a bad thing to use a mana tide totem or shadowfiend on trash because it will be back sooner then you think.

No matter your class, you need to learn how the time for the cooldown is passing in game time and not clock time. 

How we, as humans, interpret clock time is based on the things we are doing.  At work or in class and doing nothing but staring at the clock waiting to leave?  5 minutes takes forever.  Playing a video game and having fun doing it?  Holy crap, 2 hours passed already, I swore I've only been playing half an hour.

Use cooldowns when they are best suited:
Not saying you will need it for all those situation, you are just going to need to get into the habit of using them.  Start using all cooldowns on every boss fight, even if you know it will be a cake walk.

One difference now is that you will not be using them with reckless abandon, you will be trying to use them at the best moment you think you can use it. 

We need to now break you out of the habit of just using them for the sake of using them.  Should not be hard really.  You should not have been in the reckless abandon phase too long being you where just having fun seeing how many you could get in while learning how it feels to throw them more often.

Blow DPS cooldowns at the start of every fight.  Blow healing and mana cooldowns mid fight.  Blow tanking cooldowns whenever you know a big hit is coming.  Sure, none of this might be needed but now you are trying to learn how to use them situational and learning that they will be available again.

You are doing this to show yourself that they will be back when you need them again for the next boss fight.  Once you have gone through this phase and notice that most, if not all, of your cooldowns are available every fight you have made the first big step at beating the Fear of the Cooldown.

Timing your Cooldowns:
Now it is the time to get it right.  There is a best time to use cooldowns.  It is not a set time however.  Each fight is different and each fight requires you to use your cooldowns at different times but usually they follow the same concept.

You've used your cooldowns as much as possible now.  So you know the feel of the time between them.  You've used your cooldowns often, so you know exactly what they are capable of doing for you.  You've tried to time them to when you think they are most useful.  Now it is time to learn the tricks for when they are most useful instead of just thinking they are most useful at that moment.

If you are a tank you need to rime your cooldowns not just for the big damage but now you need to learn about when that big damage is okay to take and when you need to avoid it.

From running with your healer, even if only through trash, you should have a basic feel for their ability.  If you know they can handle the big hit then do not use the cooldowns when you might need them later. 

Wait?  Isn't this going back to the Fear of the Cooldown concept of being afraid to use a cooldown thinking you might need it later.  Yes and no, this time you are introducing timing and that is dictating when you use it, not fear.

Lets take the first boss in Tol'Vir for example.  You are best using your defensive cooldowns if and when your healer gets thrown to the pillar.  They will be unable to heal while in the air.  They will be taking damage themselves.  If they are unlucky they will even fall on a mine.  The healer is basically out of the picture for a few seconds at least and possibly more.  Now is the time for the cooldowns.  If the healer has to roll into panic mode to save you and themselves at the same time it could cause a wipe.  This is when your cooldown usage can take some pressure off them and save a group.

See, you are waiting, but you are not waiting out of fear any more.  You are waiting out of knowledge of when to use them and you are no longer afraid to use them.  You know it will be back when you need it again and you know that this is the best time to use it. 

Even if you didn't need it and the healer and you would have been fine, it is still a good idea to use it then.  Using cooldowns at the right time is a practice you should keep up even when it is no longer needed because you out gear the content.  Good play practices should always be in place.

If you are a healer and you have been dropping your mana tide totem every chance you could you know it can be used often.  You've seen what it can do from using it so much that you should have a good idea of the amount of mana it is going to give you.

Lets use the same boss for this example.  You will want to use your mana regen ability at the best time to use it.  This means you want to use it when it when you are missing more then it will return but not when it has become so late you are in desperate need of it. 

The best timing for this is when you know you will get the full effects of it.  This would mean after he throws someone.  Being he just threw someone you know he will not do it again instantly, so you have some time.  If you are in a decent place, and everyone is healed, you can use it now to get the most use out of it.

The last thing you want to do when using it is use it when you will have to move, or in this case, get grabbed and moved.  So timing your cooldown for best use involves watching mechanics that will force you to move, move you by force, and watching your mana.  Never use it if you are not going to get the best effects from it and use it before you need it.

However, to get into the habit of good usage, when you get to the point where you over gear content, you can still use it even if you are close to max mana anyway, just use it at a set time, like mid fight.  This is just to stay in the practice of finding the perfect timing to use your cooldowns.

For a DPS using your cooldowns is just like the other two.  You need to use them when you will get the most use out of them.  Using an offensive cooldown in a phase where the boss takes increased damage is always the best time.  Using it when you will get uninterrupted DPS time in is also the best time.

Lets use the same boss.  For a melee DPS you do not want to be popping your cooldowns for increased damage, crit, etc, and then have the boss charge away to pick up someone.  Sure he will be back to you in 3 or 4 seconds but that is 3 or 4 seconds you wasted where you could have been doing added damage.  You always want to use your cooldowns after he throws someone because you know he will not be running away again soon and you will get the full up time of the damage bonus from your cooldown.

As a habit with everyone that over gears content, they tend to not use cooldowns any more when they are not really needed.  This happens, to a lesser extent, to DPS, because more DPS is always a good thing, but you can easily fall into the habit of not worrying about your cooldowns because they are not needed for a fight. 

Never battle a boss without your cooldowns.  It gets you into the bad habit of forgetting they are there and not using them at the right moments.  Then when the time comes where you need that extra DPS boost you might forget.  Don't forget, use them always.

The Fear of the Cooldown is wide spread in the game and it can turn the average player into a good player just by using it.  Cooldowns are the things I see people forgetting they have the most and I can only conclude that the reason they keep getting forgotten is because people where afraid to use them because they might need them later that becomes an out of sight out of mind issue after a while.  When the time came that they actually needed them they forgot they had them.

Remember, cooldowns are not as long as they seem.  Use them, they can only make you a better player.

Face the fear head on and you can beat it.  For some players, some great players, the only thing keeping them from being fantastic is the cooldown they forgot about because they were afraid to use it for so long it got lost in the shuffle.

It is a hard beast to beat but with effort even you can get over the Fear of the Cooldown.


  1. Good post. :) Cooldown usage was definitely one of the things that I didn't learn properly until I started raiding. To this day I struggle whenever I get a new trinket with a cooldown, because it means that I suddenly have to remember one more.

  2. For some reason I can never get on use trinkets into my rotation. On my tank it is fine, healers or DPS I always seem to forget they are there.

    Glad to hear I am not the only one that has a problem remembering them.