About this Proving Grounds thing.
Enough time has passed that it’s safe for me to say, if you were gonna do Proving Grounds, you did it. Or tried like hell.
I can remember the first couple of weeks after Warlords of Draenor was released. I played my Warlock (specced as destruction) all the way to max level. I didn’t take my time, but I didn’t rush either. I moved along at a right good clip.
As I’m in a raid team in the guild, and I knew that when raids were formed depended on who and how many were at max level and relatively geared for it, I made an effort to hit those check marks.
The Legendary ring was sure to be the obvious one. I know at one point, our raid leader told me that if someone hadn’t bothered to get to the ‘collecting Highmaul drops’ stage of the Legendary quest, they weren’t serious about wanting to raid and didn’t need to show up.
No direct pressure, but you could see in guild who was advancing, who was knocking down those normal instances, and then who was hitting the heroics and gearing up with blues fast.
It was damn straight a competition, and the name of the game was “Who is the most dedicated about being ready to raid.”
To do the Legendary, you needed some drops from three heroic dungeons.
To get into heroic dungeons, you had to get minimum of Silver in the solo instance Proving Grounds as whatever spec you intended to queue as.
So. The Bar has been set, grasshopper. If you can’t get Silver, you might as well not bother showing up to raid, because you won’t ever get the Legendary Ring.
As soon as I hit 100, my Warlock was in the Proving Grounds, and while it took me 8 or 9 tries, I got my Silver. I was a fresh level 100, and I can’t recall the exact number but I think I was around iLevel 595 or so. I Tweeted it when I finished it, so I could probably go back through the twitter archives, but really, who cares? If I had a brain in my head I would have waited for more gear. It’s no accomplishment to succeed at being stupid and impatient.
But I did it, and I certainly knew that in the Proving Grounds your gear was NOT scaled up, but if you were over iLevel 615 your gear was scaled down to that point. I was proud of finishing it, and I was damn glad to never have to do that again because what a royal pain in the butt.
Still, done and done, time to get my buns in the dun(geon)s.
Ah, but the story doesn’t end with that. Sure, I went on to do the heroics, and to progress with the Legendary Rung quest.
But Cassie got to level 100 as well not long afterwards with her Enhancement Shaman, and tried for Silver.
She didn’t say anything about hitting it, she did it, probably so she didn’t have me breathing down her neck.
But she went after it. Many times. MANY MANY times. And she failed.
She got so disgusted with herself and frustrated with the challenge that she got fed up with the game and walk away.
I believe she didn’t come back until the first Highmaul LFRs were open for a while, and we knew you didn’t need to have Proving Grounds Silver to enter it.
How’s that for a kick in the nuts? You can’t queue for heroic 5 person dungeons unless you ‘prove you can play your class’, but LFR raids with 19 other schlubs? Oh, no problem, go right on in.
Months this went on. Every once in a while, as her gear improved and I slid her some enchants and gems, I’d see her slip on and try it again. But those AoE groups with the heals and floating chasing traps were just too much at the end.
So what, right? No big deal. So what if you can’t do heroic 5 mans, you can’t do the Legendary, you can still raid in LFR.
Oh, but if you can’t queue for heroic 5 man dungeons, you also can’t ever complete the Inn quests that send you into heroics for drops. That means no Avianna’s Feather, no Leeroy, no Croman, none of those things.
I started pestering her to let me take a shot with her character at it, let a fresh pair of eyes do the run.
At this point, I’ve gotten Silver on every character I intend to do anything with. I ran Proving Grounds as a Destruction Warlock, Beastmaster Hunter, Feral Druid and Frost Death Knight. I got Silver with all of them, and truthfully once I did it with characters that had 615 or better in every slot, it was a piece of tasty red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and a little frosting carrot on top.
Arrogant? Oh my yes. I was sure, absolutely positive, just let me take over your character, dear, and I’ll White Knight this battle for you.
Yeah, no fucking way.
What I found out was how unmercifully bullshit that fight can be on a stock UI.
That fight is so damn frustrating with a stock UI, especially when you know, not think but KNOW that you can do this easy on your own system.
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a pro raider. Not even fucking close. See, I press buttons on my button bar instead of using tons of keybound macros on a pro mouse. Mouse key binds is the way to do it, where you don’t ever even have to look at a bar, you can use most of your key abilities right from different mouse button presses. Instant response. I tried it, just couldn’t deal with it.
So my UI had button bars on it, and I click on those buttons to cast abilities. I have carefully thought out macros and I do have things like rain of Fire on mouse buttons so I can easily click and drop out there on the field of battle, but most of the time I’ve got my attention split between the battle and the cooldowns on my button bar.
It is what it is. At least I don’t keyboard turn.
But I do everything I can to maximize my screen real estate. I use ElvUI because by default it puts my buttons al nice and tight at the bottom, frees up lots of screen, and puts my health and casting bars on the bottom left and my target on the bottom right. I can see my casting bar for making sure I’m queuing up my abilities the instant my current cast goes off, and I can see right there in bottom center the casting bar of my targeted enemy and below that my focus target.
If my target or focus target starts casting, I see it instantly in my prime field of view and can cast my Interrupt macro that beings with a /stopcasting and then fires off the interrupt right after. No delay, because I’m slow enough that I can’t possibly wait for a cast to go off, it probably took me a half a second to react once the bad guy started casting in the first place.
So with my UI, I can look at the center of my screen and see all the key data about my targets, most especially when they’re trying to get that damn heal off, and I can slam the shit out of them and interrupt it easily.
Not so with a stock UI.
The health and casting bars are way the hell up at the top left corner. I never look up there, I CAN’T look up there, I cannot process information from the very top left plus the moving battle in the middle AND the button bars at the bottom. Not happening. I can flip from middle to bottom and back, but not middle to top to middle to bottom to middle to oh fuck he got off a heal. Son of a mudkip!
I tried to do it with Cassie’s Shaman, and I don’t think I got past wave three the first time.
That was a wake up call.
“Okay, fuck this, that’s how it’s gonna be? Fine.”
I made sure everything was gemmed, enchanted, went to Icy Veins and checked for recommended macros and glyphs, aoe strategies, made sure every possible useful talent and ability was on the bar, food buff, good to go.
I prepared for war.
There was actually an ability she didn’t have on her bar that she wasn’t using. Just didn’t make it to the bar when they changed something over the last year.
So I tried again.
I went at that miserable piece of shit instance nine or ten times, getting ever more pissed off because I could NOT get used to where you had to look to see spell casts by the enemy.
I’m talking swearing at the screen telling it to kiss my big furry butt and getting ready to quit the damn game myself. It shouldn’t ought to be that damn hard to unlock a fucking heroic 5 man instance. I’ve done them plenty of times now; there are some stone idiots in those. If they could get through it, what the FUCK is wrong with ME?!?
But I finally got close enough, popped cooldowns and blew everything I had, and triumphed. And damn, did it feel good.
It also felt ridiculous. The only reason, the ONLY reason that was so miserable was because of the way the stock UI is laid out to provide information.
Dealing single target damage, fine, doing some AoE while hitting single targets hard, okay, moving and scooting out of the way of those stun globs while still doing DPS, fine, but moving and doing strong single target and also AoE and also dodging stuns and ALSO watching a cast bar at the top left so I can respond to a heal and interrupt it in time?
Just kiss my furry butt, man. You want to make us ‘learn how to play’, change your UI to help us identify the damn caster getting off a heal.
You know what would have helped? An option of setting a mob’s outline to glow or pulse red when they began casting a heal. It wouldn’t matter who the hell you had targeted or what their cast bar looked like if any enemy that started casting a heal began pulsing with a bright red glow. A simple mouseover macro tied to a left thumb button and you could quickly mouseover them and pop an interrupt.
Oh, would that trivialize the challenge of interrupting?
I respectfully submit to you my opinion that if the challenge lies in using your shitty UI to be able to tell who is casting or what it is they’re casting, and a UI that better conveys critical information in a tight space negates that challenge, the challenge is crap.
Still. It felt very good to finish that for her, so we can do heroics together and open the rest of the game for her to do if SHE chooses, and not feel blocked because she can’t interrupt a damn heal fast enough while dodging stun balls.
I hate to say it, but it’s true. I know it to be true.
If I had to play the game with the stock UI, I’d quit. I wouldn’t enjoy it after being able to play using a UI laid out by someone who had some sense. Someone that looked at the increasingly difficult raid requirements and realized we needed better access to information to speed up response times.
I’ve been using ElvUI too long. I just didn’t know how bad the default really was for SEEING things.
I can’t help feeling sorrow for anyone that uses the default UI, has tried like hell to do the Proving Grounds, and has failed.
It’s not you. Dear lord, please believe me, it’s not you. I know it must be frustrating to see other people get it done, but it doesn’t mean you suck.
It might just mean that you aren’t playing with the same advantages as others. You might still be foolish enough to think that everything in the game can be done by a reasonably experienced gamer using stock WoW user interfaces without macros or addons.
You poor, poor deluded soul.