Playing to win

I actually had two points for my “serious gamer” post, but the thing was getting too long, so here’s the rest of it.
Let me pick out the bits in the first post that had to do with my second point.

Player B can have an extremely productive 90 minutes online and then go to a movie with local friends.

Productive. Getting stuff done.

Cleaned up some old quests, and started collecting some materials I need for the next ‘big’ dungeon I want to do with her.

How did I know I’d need them? I looked up dungeon instances for the basic level I’m at, focusing on stuff that was higher level by a little bit, because (a) it’s better rewards and (b) I’m a pretty good player, so I want to push myself.

Also, following some research on the “maintankadin” forums, I respecced her for a stronger tanking build, which cost me a ton of gold, but the results of which I liked.

I don’t just research what there is to do — I read about how to do it. Yeah, most of the posts are about playing at 70, and if I’m only level 40, that’s not entirely relevant, but it does tell me what to aim for, what to expect, and most importantly, what I will be expected to do if I want to team up with other people.

… spent some time in the afternoon doing more work on game-prep for that face to face game, and reading up on LotRO quests and appropriate surnames for Men of Gondor.

Prep, prep, prep. I want the face to face game to come off well, and while I don’t prep scenarios as such, I *do* prep by getting familiar with the rules. For this game coming up, I’m researching:
1. Half-life
2. Horror movies of the 80s
3. Mullets
And I’m looking up surnames of the Men of Gondor (note: they don’t use them) because at level 15 your LotRO character can pick a surname, and with the server I’m on, it’s important to me that it’s accurate. I’m a fan-boy.

Kate and did a little LotRO stuff, which mostly amounted to us running around the Old Forest in fear for our very lives.

Why do I prep? Why do I look stuff up? Because eventually the shit is going to hit the fan in whatever game you’re playing, and you want to continue to have fun — not have a frustrating night.
That’s the same reason I aim to do things that push my play ability. If my ‘safe’ play has more instances where I’ve pushed the limit and had to really work to succeed, then I’m ready for the times when I have to redline when I’m NOT expecting it.
Yes, we ran around all over, yes we scrambled — the only time I didn’t have fun was when I was defeated and had to retreat from some wild critters that really shouldn’t have been that much of a challenge — they WERE, because Kate and I got separated, which also shouldn’t have happened.
Saturday, I was on my paladin and teamed up with another one. I tank on my paladin, and I’ve done a LOT of reading on how to do well as a tank on WoW, because it is a LOT different than tanking on City of Heroes.
1. You don’t get any kind of front-loaded aggro. Most tanks in WoW only have a piddly little ranged attack — some (most paladins) don’t have any, and they have to build it by getting beat on for a good ten seconds. 2. Their aggro is FRAGILE. It is no challenge at all for a damage-dealing class to decide they want to pull the bad guy’s aggro from me onto themselves… the CHALLENGE in play is to do as much damage as they can WITHOUT getting aggro. (You can run an aggro meter to tell you were you are in relation to the tank.)
In CoH, Tanks get a ranged taunt that affects up to five enemies at the same time, and, once you start hitting them, pretty much guarantees you will never lose their attention that fight.
The only thing like that in WoW is dynamite, and I can’t MAKE dynamite.
So I was out with this other paladin, and while I’m still running up to the baddie, they throw off a holy smite — a ranged spell they get, because of their build, that I don’t have. Before you could say “What the…” I was running back the way I came, chasing the thing down as it went after the other character.
After the fight, I asked them to wait and let me build aggro on the mob first. “Five seconds,” I said, “during which you can even hit them with your basic attack if you want, just don’t use that Smite.”
“Why worry about it?” They said. “I can tank these little guys.”
Sure, but that’s not the point.
There’s something my football coach used to say. “You play like you practice.” Only into my mid-thirties do I really start to understand that.

If you start off every unimportant fight with some big, aggro-pulling attack, what do you think you’re going to do when you start up a boss-fight against something that can kill you in two shots?
You’re going to hit the same damn key. I know this — I do it all the time on my hunter. I have purposely started playing with a pet who CAN NOT hold aggro without some help from me, so I get better at playing with a GROUP.
If you always work to have nice safe fights where everything goes according to plan, what’s going to happen when things go pear-shaped?
You’re gonna die, that’s what. I purposely make bad moves on my paladin to get in over my head every 30 minutes or so, so I know how to deal with things when they go bad (I don’t need to do this on my hunter — things go wrong with him all the time without my help). So I’m used to it.
So it’s HABIT.
I went afk at one point during that run with the paladin. I came back to my screen and we had been attacked by a patrol of trolls. I was down to half my health, and the other paladin was almost dead.
I dropped into my chair. There are like eight or nine guys on me. Throw a blessing on myself. Put up my holy shield. Put up Seal of Sanctuary. Consecrate the ground around me so that everyone starts taking damage. Let them burn themselves on my holy aura for awhile. Health is getting down. The other paladin dies. Drink a potion. Repeat. Three of the trolls run off (they always do that) and bring back more from the camp nearby. Health is getting down. Use my Lay on Hands ability that heals me up to full ONLY ONCE AN HOUR. Keep fighting. More of them rum for reinforcements. Health is getting down. Throw up a 10-second shield of invulnerability. Heal myself, twice. Shield drops. Put up all my defenses and consecrate the ground again, bottoming out my mana.
Fight. 20 seconds later it’s all over but the crying. All the trolls are dead and I’m waiting for my mana to come back to resurrect the pally.
I wasn’t even panicking during any of that. I was focused, yes, but I was pretty sure I’d win.
I’d done pretty much the same fight the day before. Twice. On purpose.
You play like you practice.

Sunday night, I logged in and one of my guild leaders let me know that they were available for ‘whatever you need’ with regards to getting keyed to Karazhan. Word has percolated throughout the guild that I’m not a smacktard, and not a bad player. (With exactly 0 epic gear pieces in 17 body locations, I’m doing the same damage per second and performing the same group functions (crowd control, etc) as the hunter class-leaders wearing nothing but epics), and they want to get me to a point where I can do more stuff with them.

I read about playing hunters. I look at the kinds of numbers that some of the smartest, best players with my type of character put up when they’re running the elite dungeons in groups of 10 — the guys who consistently out-perform everyone else in the group.
I note that their stats are maybe 30% better than mine, and then I try to produce the same numbers as they get, anyway.
I fail. I figure out something I can do to fix it. I do that. I try again.
I look for missions where you seem to need three players and I try to solo it. If I get even halfway there, I keep trying until I succeed.
Am I perfectionist? Please — come look at my house and tell me that. Or read the typos in this post.
I’m not leet. I have no desire or delusions in that regard.
But when I play, I want to it to be good, quality play. I want it to demonstrate some skill, and I do NOT want the other players playing with me wondering “who brought along the dead weight?”

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