Thursday, January 28, 2010

Attacking While Backstrafing

I use a Belkin n52te device when I play WoW.

I have all key strobing turned off, and the first four keys in each of three rows mapped to 1-4, 5-8, and 9-= respectively. I also have shift and control mapped to keys. Target next and target previous are mapped to the scroll wheel, and having everything well within reach saves me some wrist strain.

But it's the little thumb toggle that really helps me with backstrafing. In order to completely eliminate the possibility that I'd truly run from an enemy, and by doing so lose my dodge bonus, I decided to map the up, down, and back positions on the thumb toggle to "q", "e" and "s", respectively. The important thing to note about this is that I do not have "w" mapped on the Belkin, which means I can only reach full speed by strafing or using my mouse.

In order to turn or change direction, I use my mouse. To run forward I use the mouse. When the time comes to backstrafe, I take over on the Belkin, and use the mouse to control my direction. This has been good practice, and I'm finally starting to really get the hang of it after a couple of false starts. But it's not easy mode by any means. In order to get the benefits from this you have to keep a careful eye on whether or not, as you are strafing away, the enemy is running along in front of you or behind you.

Consider if you were facing away from a target. You could circle strafe it with your back facing it the entire time, if you wanted. But in order to always keep it in front of you you need to be facing the other direction. It's the same way with backstrafing. If you go off at the wrong angle the enemy will be behind you, and you won't be able to dodge or use your attacks. Fortunately the game gives an audible whenever you try to attack something that is behind you, so I advise that you keep Maul on cooldown when practicing your backstrafing.

By the time you get Bear form, you should be able to head back to Teldrassil or Mulgore and practice your professions while getting in some backstrafing practice. You can use your keyboard, or get all fancy with the peripherals if you prefer. But practice makes perfect. Once you've got it down you should be able to switch orientation so that you're traveling in the same direction but facing the opposite way. Any opponent that was just behind you is now "in front" of you again. You can still move away at a running pace, dodge and attack as normal.

With practice you should be able to switch back and forth effortlessly, always keeping your enemy "in front" of you as you backstrafe. Once you have that down, we can talk about ways to do this with some semblance of situational awareness, so you're not running blind.

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