No, I am not talking about the alphabet here. Although being able to read is certainly an advantage in a game whose main ingredients include quests and textual communication between players (MMO means Massive Multiplayer Online, after all). That being said, I personally know a few players that cannot read at all, and there are certainly blind WoW players (I can’t imagine how hard this must be *bows in respect* ).
But as I mentioned at the beginning, this post is not about reading in or about WoW; it is about how new and inexperienced players can get a bit more out of their character. Anyone who has read WoW blogs for some time will now shake their head and sigh due to the silly title of this blog post. Anyone who is still in the dark about it will probably have stopped reading by now. Which is unfortunate, really, because this blog post might be for them.
The ABC Rule
For many WoW players this is stating the obvious; some may never have bothered with it and maybe never will; for a select few, though, this might be helpful. And after all, the WoW blogging community is all about helping others, isn’t it? WoW blogs certainly don’t exist for the mere purpose of venting about one’s raid members (and attaching some obscure reasoning for why this is relevant to it) or complaining about how difficult it is to lead a guild. Most certainly not!
After this detour (not the last one, I can assure you of that) you might ask:
What, then, is the ABC rule?
The ABC rule is very easy: Always Be Casting.
I don’t get it.
In effect, it means that you are hitting your buttons constantly. Sitting around idly will not gain you much DPS (damage per second — is also used for players whose job it is to “lay on the hurt”). Once an attack or a spell has been started, you should already be hitting the key (or mouse button or whatever else, depending on your setup) for your next ability. Example: a mage starts casting a Fireball. Immediately after the cast has started, they are mashing their Pyroblast key (yes, something procced), until that cast has started (or in this case, the global cooldown — more on that below — of the instant Pyro has started). At this very instant, they start hammering away at their Fireball key again. And then another Fireball. And another one. And so on and so forth. The ABC rule is not only for mages, though.
This doesn’t concern MY class! … Or … does it?
Well, in its most basic form it concerns any tank or DPS, really. Healers are special snowflakes in this case (as in any other), because they are not depleting but filling boxes. While tanks and DPS are anxious to eradicate any green filling in their opponents’ health boxes, healers are not able to make their comrads better if they are already at their best health (after all, massaging in WoW is not an option — there’s something for the next epansion: get a massage before going into combat for an extra buff). The ABC rule therefore only applies to healers in heavy healing situations. A healer with their group at full health is like a DPS without hostile NPCs (non-player character, I think) in range: out of work. Some are even out of order, but that’s an entirely different matter.
Why am I doing this again?
To maximize your output, be it damage or threat (or in healing-intensive cases even healing). [I am going to keep this in simple terms, mostly because I am not familiar with the specifics myself. If there is anything inaccurate about it, please please enlighten me. I'm serious, DOOO EEEEET!] See here, your WoW takes place at two different places: your computer and the central server. To perform any action in game, you — through pushing your buttons or what-have-you — send a request to the server. “Please, let me burn my enemies with the power of the moon.” Something along those lines, only in code. The server then replies with either a “Done.” or a “No can do, sweetheart.” stating the reason why this action isn’t performable (does this word even exist?), which ultimately is displayed on your screen as BRRT MOONFIRE or your toon lecturing on why you cannot do this, respectively. The time it takes for your prayers to finally be answered is called latency. At least in the game it is. I’m not sure if there is a specific term for it in religion. Faith, maybe? But I digress. Again. Now, I am not sure about this next one, but I think that latency is the reason why Blizzard (and other game developers) put in the ability for you to queue your abilities.
Queue? QUEUE? What is this moron blabbering on about? Queue … Queue …
[Haha, funny. I know, right? QQ ...] Queueing spells is a really easy thing to do once you know about it. Imagine a queue of people (for you Americans, since my dictionary says ‘queue’ is a British English word: people standing in line) for Disney World. Now, in a perfect world the queue moves steadily, as one person follows the next without pause. In reality, though, there is always the oddball who cannot find their wallet — or their children (nothing to joke about, as any parent who has lost sight of their offspring in a crowded place will tell you) — and who thusly delay everyone else’s fun time with Mickey Mouse. Unthinkable, I know. You as a WoW player want your spells to behave like the perfect line of people. Don’t be the person bringing the queue to an abrupt stop. Don’t be that guy! You want your casts to follow one another without any downtime. Less downtime equals more DPS, TPS (threat per second) and HPS (healing per second). And more is always better, right? Of course, in the perfect world of the person behind the counter at Disney World there is no queue, but that would be most unfortunate for this analogy.
Now, in our example of the gnome mage throwing big balls of fire (because there is a hidden gnome in any good example), they cast their Fireball spell. Before that Fireball ends they will tell the server to warm up the next Fireball so they can throw it without any interruptions (they could also press/click once at the right time, but for me that takes away too much focus from what is going on in a fight). It is a bit like a preview clip on TV. “Next on Gnomeageddon‘s Special Of Fiery Armageddon (S.O.F.A.): another episode of Fireball!” And yes, in this analogy downtime is (unwanted) advertisement.
Back to ME, please. How is this important for me? I’m not even a CASTER?
Would you let me finish, please? The Global Cooldown (GCD) is triggered each time you perform an ability, and lasts 1.5 seconds (certain talents, stances and haste can reduce the GCD, and some classes have an innately shorter GCD, if I am not mistaken). This prevents a situation where the player who mashes their buttons fastest wins. In that world, even the slightest change in latency could screw you over big-time. And this is where queueing your abilities is important as a non-caster. A rogue might be able to perform their abilities instantly, but the GCD still applies to them. And if you queue your next ability while the GCD is still ticking away, your next ability will be performed the instant the GCD is over. If you yourself wait until the GCD is over to hit the next ability, your latency will cause a slight delay. In a ten second period this is not a big deal, but throughout a five minute boss encounter it shows. Especially for casters, though, since dealers of physical damage (Meelee DDs + hunters) at least have their auto-attack, even if they don’t press any ability buttons.
As an aside: this is also why clicking the abilities on your bar with your mouse is widely considered bad play (you lose time moving your mouse all over the screen to attack, especially if you have to change your target). There is even the derogatory term of the ‘clicker’. Some guilds are extremely tense when it comes to clickers and won’t take them into their roster. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
Another aside: there are addons that help you with queueing and the GCD. Quartz (a replacement for your cast bar — and so much more) is probably the best-known among them
Umm … TL;DR, plz?
No can do, sweetheart.