Friday, March 6, 2015

The Secrets of Backpedaling

If I could pick any hot topic to get people into a kerfuffle over, the debate about how to set up your keybindings may be my favorite.

Now, everyone has their opinion about this - you kind of have to. You can't really play WoW without being confronted at some point by the facts that 1. you can manually adjust your keybindings however you want and 2. someone will always vehemently disagree with you about how you've chosen to do so.

Whether you move with your mouse or keyboard, whether you click or use keybindings - regardless of your methods or results, someone out there will always decide that your opinions are questionable.

ft. - your opinions

You have two main extremes to this debate - the steadfast clicker who swears up and down that clicking on spells and abilities, even as a healer, is just as effective as using keybindings or mouseover macros - and the keybinding activist who unbinds their turn and backward keys on their keyboard and considers non-mouse-movers to be lesser beings.

Well, this post isn't about my opinion and how it's totally, definitely the correct opinion, but it's just here to shed a little light on a behavior that completely boggles me - completely unbinding your backward key.

Limiting the number of ways you can interact with the game is possibly - get ready to be offended - the dumbest thing you can do if you're looking for the most effective way to play.

If you've unbound your backward key, and probably turning keys, with the delusion that being unable to backpedal or keyboard turn somehow makes you a better player, you may be shocked to hear that you are actually reducing the control over your mobility and visibility in game.

Everyone considers backpedaling to be this grievous sin. Just the mere mention of it will send elitists into uncontrollable fits.

How can you live with yourself, you monster!?

Personally, I can't imagine how much more annoying playing this game would be without the ability to back up one step.

Yeah. You don't have to use your backward key to slowly move backward twenty feet while continuing to take avoidable damage. Sometimes you just have to back up one step or adjust yourself slightly. Whether it's making minor positioning adjustments or moving out of fire that's engulfing you from every direction except directly behind you, contrary to what people would have you believe, backing up one step will not lower your DPS by 20% or cause you to instantly die.

When you have to move your mouse - and camera - to strafe and then reorient yourself just to move backward a tiny bit, you are putting way more effort into something that would be incredibly simple if you just had the ability to back up.

ms paint skillz

This doesn't pertain only to this situation. There are plenty of situations where a well calculated, simple, effortless step backward is all you need. It retains your positioning, camera, and orientation of your character and leaves your mouse free for mouseovers or target swaps. Whether you're a fraction of a step too close to the person in front of you in a fight where you have to space out, or a small step ahead of the group in a fight where you have to stack up, moving yourself by moving your camera and mouse 90 degrees, strafing backward, and reorienting yourself is far more hectic.

Backing up is also a common strategy to use as a tank while trying to minutely adjust the position of a mob or to avoid moving in a way that causes your back to be exposed to the monsters - which we all should know results in an reduced ability to mitigate attacks. It's frequently necessary to move quickly by strafing while tanking, but with larger boss monsters and large groups of mobs, their adjustments and positionings while moving can be erratic, landing them behind you and putting you in danger of heavy damage without proper use of your backwards key to control your and their position.

If you feel like you have to unbind keys in order to avoid backpedaling and keyboard turning in ways that are ineffective, then you should work on developing better habits in general. If you've been persuaded to unbind your backward key for fear of being judged by rabid elitists, then I hope you would reconsider after reading about the benefits. If you actually think you're better than other people for never utilizing the art of backing up, I feel sorry for you.


As for keyboard turning, I only really do it while idling - to spin in a circle, or to make small adjustments for artistic screenshots or impromptu role playing. If you think I'm missing out on easy to hit keybinds by having those two extra keys bound just for aesthetics, then you just aren't creative enough - or have super short fingers. I never use them in combat - frankly, I couldn't give you an effective, combat related reason to keep your turn keys - but I'll never get rid of mine.

Your ability to back up, however, is there for a reason and not something that you should forsake just because of the bad name it's been given by people who haven't learned how to jump turn while strafing.

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