This is the fourth post in a series of guides about PvP, which will hopefully help some of you newbies step outside your PvE bubble and tell you why mace stun sucks.
It’s the notorious topic, the eternal struggle between clickers and the rest (pressers? pushers?). Many articles were published about keybinding, some good some bad, but most of them agree on one thing: binding your keys is the way to excel at this game.
There are a few things I’d like to point out:
- clickers will always tell you excuses why clicking is “OK” (just because you’re raiding Sunwell doesn’t mean you know it all)
- pressers will never tell you clicking is “OK” (it’s like buying a TV without a remote controller)
- you don’t want to be this guy (if you think the vid is “OK” you have some serious learning to do)
- binding your keys is not essential for PvE (but it will help you react faster in tight situations)
- never backpedal or you will face eternal damnation (it’s the typical hunter move: learn to jumpshot
- keyboard turning is bad (in 99.99% of cases you should use your mouse to turn, otherwise you’ll end up in a comic)
- it does not matter how fat your fingers are (I’m not trying to be funny, a friend of mine uses that excuse all the time; bind half of your keyboard to one spell if you must, but at least try it)
Three principles of successful keybinding:
- Start slowly: you don’t have to bind every single one of your abilities at once. It’s a learning process and will take some time to get used to (very little though). Start with binding a couple of spells you use the most, and slowly move on to other commonly used spells as soon as you get the hang of it.
- Speed: you should never bind abilities to keys which will take longer to press than click. Don’t use Ctrl+Alt+7 or something like that because it’s pointless and impossible to press with one hand.
- Efficiency: bind spells which you use most. If you’re just starting out, do not bind abilities like Water Elemental or Innervate which have longer cooldowns and aren’t too crucial. If you’re a raiding warlock, bind Shadowbolt, if you’re a PvP warrior bind Mortal Strike and Hamstring. You get the point. When you get used to it - even if it takes a week - start with other spells you commonly use: healing spells (lifebloom, prayer of mending, flash of light), CC (fear, polymorph, frost nova, psychic scream), main damaging abilities (hemorrhage, frostbolt, …).
Figure out which spells are important yourself, or check the few examples below for help:
- Interrupts - Kick, Pummel, Counterspell - you should not and must not ever miss with these spells. It’s absolutely crucial to use them at the right time in PvP, and can easily be the number one factor in winning or loosing arena matches.
- Immunities - Divine Shield or Ice Block - it’s imperative to use these abilities in the right moment.
- Goojfc - get out of jail free cards - similar to immunities, but still different: Nature’s Swiftness, Death Coil, Intimidating Shout, Blind.
- Snares - Hamstring, Shiv - like interrupts, these are the abilities which can easily tell you the skill level of a player.
- Trinket - yes, the trinket. The most important PvP item should have an accessible spot on your bars.
- Autorun - I got it on my mouse middle click.
You might not be using some of these spells often due to longer cooldowns, but when you do I bet you’re in a tight spot and every second counts.
What keys should you use
This image should give you some idea how to bind your keys (based on my setup more or less).
- W, S, A, D - standard keys for moving. Although some people use E-S-D-F, you don’t need to go down that road (although it is better in most cases, since you have more available keys to bind)
- Tab key - by default it is used to target nearest enemy, and I don’t recommend changing it. Sometimes you just can’t click on the player on the battlefield, or Proximo stops working; sometimes, it just more convenient.
- R - default key for replying to whispers. It’s really convenient and I never changed it.
- Green keys - the most accessible keys and most easy to start with.
- Yellow keys - less accessible but still close enough.
- Purple keys - targets party members (default setup)
- Shift, Control, Alt - marked with red color on the image. These are the modifier keys, and can be used in combination with other keys. For example, you could use “1″ for Frostbolt, and “Shift+1″ for Fireball.
How I bind
First of all, warlocks suck when it comes to binding. We have a lot of spells, most of them are used in PvP if you’re SL/SL spec, we also have pets to control and their spells, and of course, downranked spells (not for long though). Some classes have it easier, namely warriors, druids, rogues and shadowpriests due to stances (forms, stealth) - you can set your bars to change when you change a stance and have same binds for different abilities. For example, on my druid I have Mangle on “1″ when in Cat & Bear forms, in Tree I got Lifebloom, in stealth I got Pounce, in humanoid/moonkin form I have Wrath. If your class doesn’t have stances, you might not understand what I’m talking about, and in that case it doesn’t even matter.
In case you’re wondering, the addon is Bongos, and one of the best features is you can simply Shift+click and drag the spell icons wherever you want. I got fond of the Bongos long ago, and I love how I can quickly rearrange bars depending on what spells I currently need (if I’m in arenas, battlegrounds, instances…).
As you can probably see on the image, 1-6 are binded, as well as “Shift+1-6″ and “Ctrl+1-6″. I almost never use “Shift+7″ or binds like that, but it’s there since I must have everything binded because: a) I’m not normal b) maybe I’m drinking or smoking atm and c) in case my mouse battery runs low (hey it happened!).
- Q - Life Tap
- Shift + Q - lower rank Life Tap
- E - Spell Lock
- X - Curse of Exhaustion
- C - Death Coil (also “5″)
- F - Devour Magic
- Shift + T - Curse of Tongues
- Ctrl + D - Drain Soul (rank 1)
- H - Howl of Terror
- Tilde (the one next to “1″ and below ESC) - push to talk/mute
- T & Y - ground and flying mount
There’s also a number of other abilities and macros, like summon Felhunter/Voidwalker with Fel Domination as “Alt + F/W”, trinkets on “Shift + E/Q” and a few more.
Also, don’t forget the mouse.
- Wheel Up - pet attack
- Wheel Down - pet follow
- Middle Click - autorun
- Mouse 4 - Wand
- Mouse 5 - Banish
I’m pretty sure I forgot a few since I haven’t logged on my lock in like a month, but I’m hoping this gives you a bit of insight on how I worked this out. Again, it’s not the best keybinding setup you can have, but I never could quite figure it out on lock. As I said, it’s much easier for some other classes which have nearly worthless spells in certain specs, or can’t even use them unless they are in certain stance.
How you bind
…is up to you. Remember to do it one step at a time, don’t rush things and try to bind twenty keys at once or you will fail. It’s helpful to bind certain keys to a letter which reminds you of the spell: I have “C” for Death Coil, “G” for Nature’s Grasp, “H” for Hibernate/Howl of Terror. Once you get used to keybinds you will never look back, I promise you that.
Alternatively, you could use a tool such as this one to help you efficiently bind your keys, but in my opinion it’s not necessary. Nevertheless, the option is there. Whichever way you choose to learn to key bind is fine, as long as you actually do it.
Keep in mind
Anyone can bind their keys. It does not matter what class or spec you play, you will benefit from it a lot. Arenas and PvP in general are all about movement: a stationary target it usually the dead one. You need to be able to move and cast in the same time. Yes, there are addons such as Healbot which work fine in both arena and raids but you will suffer from tunnel vision. A hunter who can’t jumpshot or a mage who can’t cast Frost Nova while moving is a dead one. Always turn your character using a mouse, and never backpedal. Binding your abilities alone will not make your ratings skyrocket, but is the fourth step.
In case you missed my previous steps, part one talks about resilience, part two about getting gear, and part three is still trying to teach you how to properly use your medallion. I originally planned to write a 3-part l2pvp guide series, but I realized it’s hard to talk about one thing without mentioning the other. The fifth part will most likely be the final one, and will attempt to teach you probably the most valuable lesson I learned. It can’t be done by all classes, but all need to be aware of it. It’s something you can really put into practice, and will surely help you beat a few classes much easier. If you want to get notified when it’s posted, you’re welcome to subscribe to the RSS feed. If there’s a certain topic you feel would fit in this series, tell me all about it (well not all, leave something for me) in the comments below.