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Am I the only one who doesn't key bind?

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From my experience, when first started out, I was a clicker. Guily as charged. I didn't think that it would make a difference and I would be able to get away with it. As I progressed and learned the game, I realized that using key binds makes the game a whole hell of a lot easier to manuver. In a raid environment you may get away with a click or two, but in pvp, you will get crushed.

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Everyone is free to play as they like; as someone else pointed out, it's a game and you are meant to have fun.

However, anyone who thinks that your performance is not crippled by clicking is highly deluded. But, before I go any deeper, I think I need to explain what I mean by "performance".

Performance consists of several elements, that together make up your value as a raider (out-of-raid qualities like punctuality notwithstanding):

  • Your DPS/threat/HPS.
  • Your accuracy in performing your specific role (switching to an add/picking up a new add/healing that guy who just got an unexpected burst of damage).
  • Your accuracy in performing the general role (moving out of fire/void zones, moving in unison with the raid).
  • Your mistake-ratio. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes these even lead to wipes; how many mistakes you make, or how often you make them is very important.
  • Your "durability". That is to say, how long you can last in the raid before you lose concentration/focus.
Moreover, I think it's important to note that there are degrees of "performance". Roughly, you could say that:
  • You are doing a noticeably bad job (your DPS is way below par, you are always dead, you are unable to perform simple tasks).

  • You are doing a bad job, compared to the rest of your raid members (you are lowest or low on DPS, you die often, tasks cannot be assigned to you for fear of you being unable to complete them, etc.).

  • You are doing a moderately decent job, compared to the rest of your raid members (middle of the pack DPS, no noticeable mistakes/deaths, average handling of abilities).

  • You are doing a great job, compared to the rest of your raid members (top DPS, very low mistake ratio over a long time, excellent handling of abilities).

  • You are doing an excellent job (record-setting DPS, flawless performance in every other aspect, your raid leaders trust you to handle the most difficult mechanics).
I am not arguing that refusing to use keybinds means you will be a part of the lowest category in terms of performance. What I am arguing is that you will never be at the peak of your performance, nor will you ever be better than the majority of your peers, if you refuse to use keybinds.

Going back to my first list, clicking affects all of those factors. All things being equal (same player, same computer, same latency, same encounter), here is what happens if you click instead of using keybinds.

Lower reaction speed is an unavoidable consequence of clicking. Even if you are able to hover your mouse over the spell you wish to click before you must click it, it is still faster to use the spell by pressing the key than by clicking your mouse. This is never the case, of course, since you need to move your mouse from one ability to another, often far from each other. This doesn't even take into account other things you may have to do, such as clicking mobs or their nameplates (in the case of tanks and DPS) or clicking raid frames (in the case of healers).

As a result of the lower reaction speed, your DPS/threat/HPS will suffer. Even if you have the class and spec with the simplest and most basic rotation in the game, and the encounter is stationary, keybinding would still net you better results.

You are much more prone to errors, due to having to divide your attention among multiple things. For each ability you use, you must "aim it" with your mouse cursor. This means you need to take your eyes away from the center of the screen, making it much easier to miss out on things such as visual effects, emotes or boss mod warnings.

Moreover, doing this for an extended period of time is draining to your concentration.

Performing complex tasks is nightmarishly difficult. Having to perform a complex task such as "running from point A to point B, while constantly casting instant-cast spells on various raid members, and immediately upon reaching point B, click an object located next to your character, and use a survival/threat dropping spell" becomes extremely tedious. How would you do this without keybinds? Let's see

  • Run forward using a forward key ("W" perhaps). If you cannot run in a straight line, you must make use of additional keys to strafe left and right. Note that this is much easier by using the mouse to turn.
  • Frantically move your mouse from your raid frames to your action bar and back for each and every single spell-cast you make. Even under the best conditions, it would be hard for you not to waste any time in between global cooldowns here.
  • On arrival, move your mouse from your action bar or raid frame to the object, click it (during this time, you are not casting any spells because your mouse is "occupied").
  • After clicking this object, click your survival ability, which is most likely not located in an accessible way on your action bars (since those positions must be taken up by often-used abilities).
  • Move your mouse to your raid frames again to continue healing.
As you can probably tell, this is highly inefficient, and it makes you exert much more effort than you need to.

Using keys to turn your character puts you at a noticeable disadvantage. By far the most efficient way of turning your character around is by right-click "dragging". This is done with the mouse, and you cannot do this if you are busy using your cursor to cast the abilities that are part of your regular rotation. The same goes for left-click "dragging" to change your camera angle and see your environment.

Now, if you've trained yourself for it, then you can probably perform reasonably well without using keybinds. This means that you're quite adept at playing your character. Which means you could be performing so much better by keybinding, that you would be astounded by your results.

As I said at the start, there are many levels of "performing", and you might be happy with the one you are at. Even your raid might be happy with it, in which case all is well. But do not delude yourself into thinking that you couldn't be doing much better by using keybinds.

And to echo what others have said before, for PvP, the contrast is even more glaring. You are going to get completely destroyed (or you will let your team down) if you don't use keybinds.

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Some good points raised by Vlad. I have a couple of comments, and one correction:

Lower reaction time

I believe that you mean "lower reaction speed"! Lower reaction time is a good thing. Lower reaction speed is a bad thing.

Using keys to turn your character puts you at a noticeable disadvantage.

I believe that a caveat must be added: you are only at a disadvantage when the movement is urgent. When there is non-urgent movement, by definition it does not matter how efficiently one moves provided it does not affect your rotation. Hence, in the limit of small movement (which is what you would ideally do on any fight), keyturning is fine when there is not an urgent action. Once you start moving across a room or become in mortal danger, keyturning does put one at a disadvantage. I think that there are degrees of this, also; we don't need to go into that. Suffice it to say that when the movement is important, I agree with you. (note that this last paragraph is also the reason that I use two control schemes.)

Edited by Stoove

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Thank you very much for your great reply.

I was probably a "3" player, although I thought I was doing ok. However, since key binding, even though I'm still learning, my level of play has improved dramatically. I've seen a 100% increase in dps in some situations. Admittedly some of this maybe down to different mechanics under MoP, all of it certainly isn't.

I still revert back sometimes to 'clicking' but I think in a couple of months it will be so natural to move with the mouse and keybind, I won't be able to believe i did it do it earlier.

So I'm really glad I started this topic and thanks again to everyone for encouraging me to change.


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So I'm really glad I started this topic and thanks again to everyone for encouraging me to change.

Well I'm glad you found an answer among the disparate replies. Make sure to upvote all the particularly helpful posts :) Also, stick around and help other people out =]

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