Monday, February 14, 2011

What is a Rotation and How to teach it.

What exactly constitutes a rotation?

Standard belief is something along the times of do A, do B, do C, do D, back to A and continue.

This is the standard of every class in the game some have more, some have less, but it is the basis of all classes.  Do not let anyone ever tell you otherwise.  All classes and roles have a standard rotation that everything else is built on.

As a raid leader I am often asked by people what they can do to get better.  I always start off by telling them a rotation and tell them to practice it.  Once they are fluid with that to the point where they do not even need to be looking at the screen or keys any more, they can be watching TV, having a conversation, clipping their toe nails one handed (which is a skill I assure you), then they are ready to move on.

That will not make for a good tank, healer or DPS however.  Why do I teach people like that?

Glad you asked because that brings us to the next phase of the learning.

How to teach it?

We laid the ground work for the player.  I tell them that 2, 3, 4 and 5 should be their 4 main abilities that they were practicing with.  They now know those as if they had been with them forever.

Going to use Survival as an example here.

2 - Explosive Shot
3 - Black Arror
4 - Cobra Shot
5 - Arcane Shot.

I had them completely ignore procs while learning the rotation.  By doing that they have now gotten it into their system where those 4 keys are and their respective place in their rotation.  Now I add a new tool to their arsenal.

1 - Serpent Sting
6 - Kill Shot

For most people the 1 and 6 are at the ends of their comfort zone.  Both these will be used each fight and only kill shot will ever be used more then once, assuming that serpent sting never needs to be reapplied.

Being these are situational you can not really train them on the dummy but being they are there you can now let them see them all the time and they can get used to them being there while they start to work on mechanics.

First part of breaking the rotation and turning it into priority, simple mechanics.

We start letting them use the Lock N Load now.  We do not let them get maximum DPS out of it yet however.  When LNL procs I tell them to do explosive, a cobra, an explosive a cobra and an explosive and then go back into their rotation as they practiced.

They will continue on the dummy until they can do a LNL without even thinking.  Their fingers will naturally flow to those numbers even if they do not think about it and are wondering when I was going to give them a bathroom break because they really needed to go.  Once they are more worried about going to the bathroom and not concentrating on the rotation but still doing it perfectly it is safe to assume they got it down and we can move along.

Now you start to teach them parameters.  You know the ifs and whens that all classes have.  If LNL procs and you are focus capped do not do cobra, do kill command.  But I do not have kill command on my bar.  Okay, put it there then, shift 5 please.

Why shift 5?  Listen and you will find out.  You are used to hitting 5 when you are full on focus for arcane right?  So that is part of your standard rotation.  All you learned is that then you have the focus and do not need cobra you fire Arcane, when you have the focus and do not need cobra and are also in LNL you do shift 5.  You are putting things in the position where you are most used to them being and they are being used under the most similar conditions, LNL being the exception here.

Now you have all the major parts of your rotation in quick and easy reach.  But what about Hunters Mark or misdirection or disengage, or deterrence, or multi shot... hold your horses, we are getting there.

All classes, specs, roles, have things they use based on situations or one time use things.  Those one time use things, like Hunters Mark can be handled one of two ways.  You can put it at the end of your binds, like the0, - or =.

The idea is that you slowly add things into your array of spells to use a little at a time to get used to them.  You develop up from your base rotation.  Adding some things here and there as you get comfortable with the things before it.

Remember that shift 3 and shift 4 are considered to be the most comfortable shift options.  Things you might use more then others are usually nice there.  I use shift 3 for my best AoE spell on all classes I play. Multi shot goes there in this example.

You can also bind to letters as time goes on and you add more things.  In fact, this will be required.  Things on 2 or 3 minute cool downs I suggest putting near your movement keys or even, shutters, just click them.  Watch me get flamed for that one, but in truth, everyone has some things they click and others (my healers) click for all their instants except it is clicking on healbot.  Same difference however.

So these are the basics of how to teach a rotation to someone that needs a little help with it.  It teaches them not only what to do, how to do it but also helps with people learning to key bind as well.

When teaching a class, or learning a new one yourself, remember, it is always better to break everything down to the basic rotation that everything else comes from, and then learn to add from there on.

All classes and roles have a basic rotation that you start with.
All classes and roles have situational needs.
All classes and roles have long cool downs.
All classes and roles have single target and AoE.
All classes and roles can be broken down to a simple do A, do B, do C, do D, go back to A approach.

The example above was the basics on how to teach a DPS class.  Teaching a tank class or healing class is a bit different in that you can not see your progress on a dummy, so use the dummies in randoms as your test subjects.  But please be past the simple A, B, C, D stage before you practice on random dummies, not even they deserve that.  Torture your guild mates with that version of learning.  Normals are a good place to start learning the tanking and healing version.

When you look at the game at this base level you will realize how incredibility easy it is for all classes in the game.  The only difference between players is how far each of us have progressed past the A, B, C, D stage, or for those really bad, the ones that have not even found the A, B, C, D stage yet.


  1. As someone who is still getting comfortable with an optimal keybind set-up, I found this post tremendously helpful. Thanks again, Grumpy!

  2. Glad to hear someone got something out of it. Key binding is something that some people find hard.

    Many people in the game seem to be so uptight that they say you have to key bind or you suck. That is completely untrue, never let anyone tell you that. It is just their way of trying to make themselves feel superior to others around them.

    With that said, key binding is faster and more efficient for the most part in many cases but there is nothing in this game in PvE that you really need it for if you are good at what you do.

  3. Gotta say after reading this post really made me think of how bad my set up is. (too many clicks - which ive grown used to for PVE but for PVP i didnt get a chance to click before getting owned )
    So your post inspired me to scrap my UI and make more use of keybindings, thanks very much for the info :)

  4. Glad this could be of some help. Good luck working on your new UI.

    I am remaking mine with my priest now being my heal priority has changed a bit as well. It is a big task, but worth it.

  5. I'm reading this post a year later but want to say thanks. I've been keybinding for about a month. I find it a lot faster than clicking, however my keys seem too complicated to find during a boss fight. I'm going to follow your advice and keybind my core setup and practice. Then add my additional attacks/spells/etc.

    I want to improve my skills. I feel like the stereotypical huntard while playing. Hopefully practicing your method will help me improve.

    Keep up the great posts.

  6. I searched this out after reading Thrill of the Wild today. It was well recommended.

    1. How you enjoyed it. :)

      Old, but I think it is still viable.