[WoW] Proving Grounds–preparing players for group content?

PG1

 

The Proving Grounds are a one-person instance in WoW where you can practice tanking, healing, or dps roles with and against mobs that are a bit more interactive than training dummies. There are some NPCs that will help you, and the various mobs have different abilities and/or need to be attached from different directions.

So far, so good, it’s a neat concept. I have friends and guildies who love the Proving Ground mini game; it has harder and harder modes and you can keep going until you get to Infinite Mode which means carry on until you are bored or wipe. The idea also is that it is a good way to practice the roles before trying group content. So in the next expansion, you will have to complete the Proving Ground for your role at Silver level (Bronze is the easiest, Silver next step up) before you will be able to queue for heroic instances.

If there is an issue with the Proving Grounds though, it is this. Bronze level is easy and still does the job of making you use different tactics for different mobs. The more difficult tiers I find tuned harder (or at least different) than what you generally will be asked to do do in instances; harder in the sense of no one to help, and hard timers (i.e. count down in the corner).  So Silver Mode in WoD could actually be harder in some senses than the content it will be used to gate, and still not guarantee that people who pass it will be useful in heroic groups.

Also when the game does this in single player mode, it penalises some classes/ specs more than others because the encounters are tuned by role, not by class or spec. For example, if I’m doing a tanking Proving Ground on my warrior, my dps will be less than that of the other tanks because of class choice. It doesn’t make it impossible (they do tune it reasonably from that point of view), but it will be harder for me to make the timers, even if my tanking is otherwise flawless.

It’s not necessarily bad for the players if the gatekeeping requires a higher skill level than the instances. It implies at least that the people you will be queuing with will be good enough to manage the heroic. But if the gatekeeping keeps out too many people who would have been fine in the groups but are no longer allowed to queue then a) people will leave the game and b) queue length will increase. It’s a fine line. My confidence in my WoW skills is very low at the moment, so I’m assuming I probably won’t be able to do it. Still, there’s always pet battles.

 

PG2

 

The thing that annoys me most about Proving Grounds is that in the tanking one, you get an NPC healer who also nukes mobs. You have to tab around to find out which one they are nuking so that you can make sure to hold aggro on it. In a just universe, you’d be able to mark the mobs so that you can control which order the healer kills them in – IMO that would be a far more useful thing to learn before queuing for instances than whether or not you can kill illusionary mobs in under 10s.

It does make me wonder about how else you could train players to be more skilled and confident in group roles.

10 thoughts on “[WoW] Proving Grounds–preparing players for group content?

  1. That’s an interesting and rather helpful idea to provide players with a tutorial / what to expect in groups.

    And as far as I know, situational awareness in tanking and being able to identify which mobs are being attacked/pulled by errant players through observation are valued tanky skills (in general, even if I’m not in tune with current WoW mindset), so if the NPC replicates some of that unpredictability, that’s probably a better thing to train tanks in than expecting real players to act like perfectly behaved robots.

  2. Have you been standing in the fire? Not being sarcastic, but I’ve found that I tend to have a few mobs left alive at the end of a wave unless it happened to be one of the lava summoner waves. Just move the mobs you’re tanking until they’re in the fire but you’re not, usually I manage to finish about 10-20s before the timer when that happens.

    It’s basically testing your ability to position the mob rather than your ability to position yourself. Something that you’d need to do if you need to tank a mob just outside a ground based buff so that your melee can get extra dps but the mob can’t. And, of course, the ability to tank a mob in something that hurts both him and you while you are outside but the mob is inside.

    It’s one of those not obvious things, I suppose.

    Side note, silver seemed easy enough as long as you’re not too rusty on tanking, though gold needed some retries because of how perfect my execution needed to be as a DK. (Not enough proactive mitigation cooldowns. As a warrior, you could just save rage to shield block through say, the double giant enrage mobs, but as a DK it’s Icebound Fortitude or bust. Death Strike isn’t fun when a mob that could two shot you comes in a pair.)

  3. Silver is pretty easy. If you can’t do Silver proving grounds, you simply won’t be able to handle random queues. It’s not fair to the other people in the queue to give them an incompetent group member.

    Also, I like that the NPCs don’t play perfectly. (That blasted hunter who stands in the fire.) People in randoms won’t play perfectly either, and you need to be prepared for that.

    • Well, the reason I made the comment is that I can handle random queues. Solo content with timers just freaks me out.

      At the same time though, I don’t see why Proving Grounds can’t try to train dps not to be incompetent group members😉

  4. Given WoD’s heroic 5-mans (which is the content gated behind silver PGs) will exist closer to Cataclysm heroics than Mists heroics, I challenge your statement that the PGs content is harder than the content it’s gating. I’ve done both PGs and heroics on beta, and as far as I am concerned, PGs are definitely easier than heroic 5-mans in the expac.

    • It’ll certainly be interesting to find out🙂 I’ve done Cataclysm heroics, but I don’t really want to make this about me, I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more about this after the expansion drops and more people get to look at it!

  5. I tried proving grounds on my druid. As a healer I found them reasonably entertaining and got silver with relative ease. As melee dps I failed on one of the last waves over and over again. They require you to dps, dodge harmful blobs and kite those same blobs into your enemies at the same time, and I inevitably ran out of time at some point or another because having to back away from the blobs always cost me valuable dps time. It felt incredibly gimmicky (as I saw no similar mechanics in any of the content I did) and unnecessarily punishing towards melee players.

    I think proving grounds have value as a concept, but I think for WoD they need to work on making them more balanced in difficulty in regards to different roles and classes. They’d also need to relate more to the actual content they are supposed to prepare you for instead of making you jump through random hoops.

    • “I think proving grounds have value as a concept, but I think for WoD they need to work on making them more balanced in difficulty in regards to different roles and classes. They’d also need to relate more to the actual content they are supposed to prepare you for instead of making you jump through random hoops.”

      This is my main issue with the article, really – that’s exactly what Blizzard have said they have planned for PGs in WoD, so it’s a bit unfair to criticise PGs’ role as queue gatekeeper without knowing how they’ll actually perform in that role.

      I have no problem with criticism of PGs as they are now if it’s in the context of what they’re intended to be now, i.e. a fun minigame which lets you practice your role to some extent.

  6. I did all 3 Proving Grounds in MoP.

    The dps one I did on my warlock, who I have never raided competitively on, and got mid-way through gold. This I felt was easiest of all 3 to get Silver on. I gave up on gold fairly early, but with persistence I could probably have got that.

    The healing one I did on my Paladin, and is the spec I feel most comfortable on. I got Proven Healer on Endless, but I’m not so sure the game play was typical of Paladin healing, with me having to use my CCs on cooldown pretty much to succeed. I would hope that in a real dungeon at least one of my team mates would be able to interrupt something!

    The tanking one I did on my Paladin too, having never tanked once in my life. I got mid-way through gold, so I was quite pleased with that. I’m not sure how typical of normal tanking it is though, seeing as the healer/dps stands completely immobile in the middle while mobs rush her from random directions.
    If I managed to get aggro on the mobs then it mostly went fine. At no point at all could I los-pull any caster round a corner though, because there weren’t any.

    One advantage as a healer I do see, is that I won’t be taking the blame that a totally useless tank should be getting. ‘Kick the healer’ – sick of seeing that when I’m doing my job properly!

    • The Gold tanking one is mostly ok except for two points, one around the 6th wave, and one right at the end – those are the places you’ll want to save your major cooldowns for, and are the toughest bits.

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