1. Line of Sight:
We’re going to discuss Line of Sight(LoS), how to use it offensively and defensively, and why it’s important to know how to use it effectively. The first point we’ll talk on is, what is it?
Briefly put, line of sight is the straight line that must exist between you and a target for you to be able to cast on them. If this line is obstructed, you are then considered out of line of sight, and are unable to use most targeted abilities on them. Line of sight can be obstructed by walls, pillars, spawning fountains (Dalaran Arena), or any solid object (Except other players).
The most common use of line of sight, is “Pillar Humping”, which is where a player will utilize the position of a pillar, and run around it to constantly be out of line of sight of their opponent. Usually this is a defensive move, typically done by a healer so he can top himself up with heals, but is also done by a dotting class, since they’re able to place all their dots on you, and then run around the pillar so you can’t do anything to him while you’re still taking damage. Any class can pillar hump, and often will over the course of match in certain situations, for defensive and offensive reasons. It can be very annoying for a ranged class, that has a minimum range (read: hunters), and slightly less annoying for the melee classes due to overextending being the main issue.
So how do we counter this? Mr skilled warlock is keyboard turning around the boxes in Dalaran laughing while mashing his multidot macro, and is half-way to his gladiator title, while you’re absolutely helpless with no dot removal, suffering from the warlock’s use of a positional advantage. We’ll have to outplay him with positioning.
This is where we break into the more applicable part of the guide, and the strategies that lie behind certain positional tactics. I’ll be focusing mainly on positioning tact you would see in 3v3, as 2v2 would be more obvious, and 5v5 is dirty. The emphasis on positioning can not be understated. It makes an incredible amount of difference in a match, and momentum thereof. The days are gone of being able to stand in the open ground, or in the middle of arena without being squished in a matter of milliseconds by cleave teams, aka pain trains.
The application of good positioning is practically endless. You control the game with positioning, more than you do with any crowd control ability. With proper use, you can make the enemy waste important cooldowns, save yourself or your partner(s), and force the opponent into changing their strategy. The game winning moments in matches come mostly from a well executed plan, AND good positioning to back up that plan.
The different types of positioning:
- Neutral (Default)
- Offensive (Pressuring)
- Defensive (Recovery)
- Putting It All Together
A. Neutral (Default):
When we talk about a neutral position, it’s those short spaces of time when nothing critical or essential is going on. It’s not seen too often during a game, but I may as well make a category for it so we can draw the comparison. At the start of the game, and when facing teams which are both very resilient, or heal-heavy, there will be periods of time when positioning will seem neither defensive or offensive. It’s the play-making, or time-out period of a match, when players are communicating and conjuring up a plan of action.
B. Offensive (Pressuring):
Offensive is pretty straight forward, you’re in a position that allows you a high amount of outgoing damage. Both dps on the same target, with the healer out of LoS dispelling/helping dps would be a very offensive position. Offensive positioning usually requires you to be out in the open, or somewhat vulnerable to a counter attack on yourself, so you should be aware of what the other team is doing, and react accordingly. An example of good offensive positioning is one where you are able to deal damage to the targets you need to, and still be near the target you need to CC, and if anything goes wrong, have an easy recovery. There is a high risk of overextending yourself if you and your other dps are going for the kill without much CC actually going out. An example of a poor offensive position could be training the lock on the Ruins of Lordaeron map when he it away from the grave in the middle. Locks are squishy, and you could drop him if the healer is not expecting the damage. Say you get the lock low, but in the process of having your entire team go offensive, your warrior has dropped to 50%, and the lock has ported to the top of the grave, while their rogue is now locking down your warrior. This is where both teams are now in an offensive position.
C. Defensive (Recovery):
So this is the situation we see ourselves in is exemplified in this screenshot (my art is horrible):
We’ll assume your healer is a druid, and we’re running Heroic-KFC, and the other team is RLS.
Now in the picture, your team is in a pretty bad position, depending on what has been used. This could be a great time for a switch, but chances are your warrior will drop before the rogue does, especially with the control of an untrained lock. The lock could easily run over to your healer and get a Howl of Terror off if he is kept unchecked. We’ll assume that silencing shot is on cooldown from your attempt to gib the lock, so is trap since you used it on the enemy healer to get pressure on the lock, however scatter shot it still up since you trapped after your druid’s last cyclone. Now is the time to remember who has trinket up, whether blind has been used, if hex/deathcoil/smoke bomb is on cooldown etc.
Essentially your warrior needs to get to the grave stone in the middle without dying, which will be very hard considering the position that the lock has baited your warrior into. You’ve overextended and are paying the consequences of it. The key to not overextending is being aware of everyone’s position on the map, and most importantly your own. You can get out of bad positioning with cooldowns, but those cooldowns wont be up again if you need them 10 seconds later. If you’ve spent most your pieces in chess, even with a superior strat you’ll still be at a disadvantage until you’re back to an even playing board again.
Overextending is something that inexperienced and tunnel vision players fall into, and it typically results from an unsuccessful all in strat, or being caught or led into a poor position by your opponent. If they’re stacking behind boxes in dal, and your melee runs over, odds are he’s going to get stuck behind without heals and be blown up very quickly. As a hunter overextending can happen when you’re trying to finish someone off, and you LoS your healer without enough cooldowns to get yourself back to safety.
E. Putting It All Together:
A few examples of good defensive positioning would be using LoS effectively against casters, baiting a melee that is on you into a good position for you to make a swap onto him, and spreading out to counter against AoE fears. One of the things I used to do when playing with a priest as a mage was to sit on my priest the whole game, so if I had 2 melee on me, I could always get a fear to peel, and at quite an advantage with both melee momentarily CC’d, it made it easier to adjust accordingly. Playing as a team, and moving as a unit is key to successful offensive play. If your healer is too slow to catch up, he can be caught out in a CC too far away to be of any use. Likewise, if you aren’t communicating with your team, it’s much easier to make silly mistakes that costs games.
All in all, it comes down to practice. It really does. No amount of information thrown at you will do any good if you’re unable to apply it. There is no universal strategy for positioning, but there is the basis of where you should be and when, but it’s up to you to control that. Once you get the hang of proper positioning, especially as a hunter, it makes the game more interesting, and opens a new world of control that only a ranged class can bring.