Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Strafe: Learn it, Love it, Live by it.

Ah, the strafe... those wonderful default key-bound Q & E motions... why do we need to keep these, again?

  • Strafing is much faster than backing away
  • With the correct angle to the mob applied first, it allows us to avoid those nasty "You must be facing your target" error messages
  • Keep maximum distance from your mob while spell-casting
  • Maintain distance while firing off instant-casts
  • Combined with Vampiric Embrace, healing + damage avoidance = being able to drop PW:S and self-Renew from your spell rotation - saving you 1050 mana per pull at level 70.

You can start using the strafe early on, but it becomes essential at level 30 with the addition of VE. Here's how you do it: Select your target mob. Turn your character to an almost-90 degree angle from it. Make sure that you have a safe area to strafe into - nothing is worse than running smack into another group of mobs in a futile attempt to avoid the first one.

Wind up a high-damage spell with a cast-time - I prefer Mind Blast. As soon as it fires, begin strafing away from your mob. Simultaneously drop SW:P; continue strafing while watching the GCD and then drop VE. Again, continue strafing while the GCD ticks. As soon as another cast becomes available, stop moving and begin to Mind Flay. The beauty of this spell is that it's also slowing the mob's progress towards you. As soon as your 3 seconds are up - or the mob reaches you and interrupts it - check the mob's health. If it's under 30%, go ahead and finish it off by wanding. Your SW:P will continue to tick, supplying a little health back to you via VE. You've started your 5-second waiting period a little early, which means you'll have a head start on that mana regen.

You'll develop a pattern as you clear your way into an area, pulling mobs back substantially before moving forward a bit to select the next one.

At level 62, Shadow Word: Death becomes available to you. Acquiring this little number effectively makes your wand obsolete. Granted, the penalty for not timing it correctly kind of sucks, but keep in mind that a portion of that damage caused - both to you and the mob - is being returned to you via VE. It's not all bad. The fact that SW:D can crit (yummy) makes it even more attractive, and you absolutely MUST learn to work this spell into your damage rotation. I use it as a finisher most of the time.

Using the strafe well requires practice and a commitment to being a clicker. You need to be able to fire off instant-cast spells while strafing, and using the Q & E keys for movement while clicking spells is the best way I've found to accomplish that. Of course, I'm always open to hearing about the methods that others use - got an improvement for this system? Think I'm completely off in the head? Leave me a comment! Share your opinion with the world!

4 comments:

Steven said...

I still back up when grinding (PVE) for mana conservation. My basic plan is back up the way I came in (since by nature that path is already clear or was cleared). I open with VT (longer cast), throw SW:P while backing up, then cast first Mind Flay. This slows the mob and I cast shield and continue Mind Flay - if a tougher mob, I'll cast Mind Blast, then more Mind Flay and PW:D if necessary. This keeps my health usually at 100% and mana pool pretty high. I'll only have to top off with water if there's plenty of mobs (about 10).

The caveat here is that I don't PVP/Raid much, so that's the difference between mana conservation and full burn on melting faces. My priest isn't my main, so perhaps I need to run more BG's and get those strafing skills up. ;-)

Just found this blog from Big Bear Butt, btw. I look forward to more priestly goodness (but not the 90210, Jason variety)

Zach said...

This is one of the very few "strafe strategy" posts I've ever seen. Not many people take advantage of the speed increase given by strafing. (My strafing experience comes from years of Quake and Counterstrike) =)

Good for my shaman to frost shock kite stuff as well.

Great blog, look forward to future posts!

(Referred by Big Bear Butt)

Jensyth said...

This post actually makes me wanna roll up another priest and stay shadow

BearKat said...

I strafe on my hunter (woot!) - It's really just a military tactic called slicing the pie -- aggressing the target while side-stepping. Anyway, works wonders. On my druid (main), I strafe to get out of LoS.

Oh, also, I don't use Q and E at all. I bind them on the main for forms; I reverse the hands and use the left for key-bound moves/spells and the right for the directional buttons. I know it's weird, but it works for me.