WoW – Proving Grounds are a First Step of Many

I want to talk a bit about proving grounds, or rather the gating mechanic that some games use for top-tier combat.  There are a few examples around but I think most would agree the shining example of this mechanic is TSW’s guardian fight.

The main purpose is to ensure that a player understands all the mechanics and how they interact with each other.  If you have an interrupt ability, then it should be something you know how to use.  Defensive and offensive cooldowns should be a part of it.  Realizing that numbers, or the power curve, can allow you to ignore certain mechanics but the top level challenge should actually be challenging.

TSW’s deck format ensures that people have to slot the appropriate skills to get through an event and doesn’t put in major barriers.  Everyone has access to all skills, so there’s really no excuse.  When everyone has the tools, then you can have a single bar for people to reach.  Or rather 3, tank, DPS and heal.

WoW’s proving grounds are a bit like this but there’s a considerable gap in ability sets between the various classes.  Sure, they all have an interrupt but the mechanics are different.  Rogues use poison, warlocks are DoTs, DKs are offensive blasts and so on.  Some focus on AE, some focus on ramp up damage.   And that’s just DPS.

Healers and tanks are a completely different boat.  Some healers are really only able to heal tanks, others are on AE.  Some tanks are sponges, some are ninjas.  Some cooldowns just don’t line up.  And we won’t consider the NPCs that the game gives you to complete these tasks as some suffer from, uh, missing a few cards in the deck if you catch my drift.

Then there’s the fact that proving grounds were built for MoP and that combat has changed a bit for WoD.  Situational awareness is more important.  Target swapping happens a lot.  Massive damage spikes are gone.  Proving grounds were also a mid-expansion addition, so the power curve was all over the place.  WoD has people coming in at very similar ilevels.

While asking for silver for roles is a good idea, the actual value of that silver is debateable.  Silver DPS doesn’t need any interrupts, which I find strange.  It doesn’t require any burst.  It does require some movement to avoid a slow-moving ball of amber and to stand behind shielded enemies.  The actual DPS check is hard if you’re not an AE focused class, mind you.  Healers should be required to dispel, not heal through it.  Tanks, well, even solid play isn’t a super solution for so-so AI.

I’m not saying proving grounds are the be-all and end-all.  I am saying that if that’s the only baseline for entry into heroics, and all 5 people barely got to that point, you’re going to have a bad time.  In their current state there’s still a fair amount of tweaking necessary to accurately reflect a role’s requirements and the actual combat mechanics in WoD.  There’s a ton of potential here.

4 thoughts on “WoW – Proving Grounds are a First Step of Many

  1. I think they are mostly okay. I don’t know if I want them to be harder unless they ever plan on making Heroics harder. They definitely don’t reflect a player’s skill in any way (at least not at the Silver level), but I don’t think that’s really the point. To me, the gating exists solely to make a player own up to the fact that these mechanics exist, that there is a fairly basic standard in which you are expected to play, etc.

    Basically, it’s an excuse to assign blame and a reason to expect some accountability. It isn’t much, but at least it is that!

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    • I’m sort of in the middle as to the effectiveness of teaching mechanics vs. how to actually play your class. The DPS proving ground is half dont-stand-in-the-red and half-pointy-part-goes-here. Healers only get a dispel mechanic and tanks is more about dealing with crappy ai.

      It just seems like a wasted opportunity to showcase a class’ strengths, realizing the amount of effort that would entail to actually design. So that you don’t reach some spot and go, “well shit, I’m a really crappy AE healer”. It’s not like the leveling experience teaches you anything about group play after all.

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      • I wonder if there would be room for bringing back class quests/class-specific content while also fulfilling your ideals of the Proving Grounds. I imagine that would better ground the ‘learning how to play your class’ aspects of it within the lore/narrative/game itself while also being more fine tuned to each class’s unique skills.

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