Legion has been an interesting expansion for me for many reasons, but one of the more subtle, yet intriguing ones has been my shifting attitude towards cooldowns.

Prior to this expansion, I hated cooldowns. In the context of tanking or even just raiding generally, they were okay, but mainly because there was a clear time to use them. About to take a huge hit? Use the tank cooldown. Did someone pop Heroism? Use all the DPS cooldowns.

Outside of raids… when were you supposed to use, say, Avenging Wrath? On the first mob you see? Only when you’ve grouped up several mobs? Only for elites or rare mobs? It shouldn’t actually matter, as WoW’s open world questing is pretty trivial, but it only took getting burned once or twice over the years before I got gun-shy. Plus, on a PvP server, you might actually need those cooldowns to escape a gank. The end result of was years of not using many (if any) cooldowns on any toons.

…except one, actually. I had zero issues popping cooldowns on my rogue, from character creation on. I don’t know if it was because the rogue has so many cooldowns anyway, or if stealth fundamentally changes the cadence of encounters, or what.

Legion, despite gutting streamlining class fantasies, feels like it has more cooldowns. The most important is the Flightmaster’s Whistle, which has a 5 minute cooldown. I have trouble actually pressing 2 minute cooldowns, much less 5 minute ones, so I was quite annoyed at first. But now? Completely fine, obviously. The Skyhorn Kite got a cooldown nerf to 15 minutes – with a 3 minute shared cooldown with Goblin Gliders – but I use them any time it might shave off more than about 10 seconds of running around.

I am, at this point, pretty much completely cured of my cooldown anxiety.

The intriguing question is “why?” While the more straight-forward answer might be simply because I started to have to use them more, I think it might be more because the expected encounter/play-session length has shortened or at least fragmented. The interplay between World Quests and the Flightmaster Whistle ensures that which ones I complete are the ones that can be done in about 5 minutes; I actually skip the ones that can be completed in less than 5 minutes, as I’d be twiddling my thumbs waiting for the cooldown anyway. Given that I’m already spending 5 minutes (or more, depending on the time it takes for the Flight Path to complete) inbetween action, all of my cooldowns will be available at each stop. So… why not use them?

The good news is that I have noticed this “lesson” bleeding over into other games. I loaded up GW2 yesterday (a topic for another post), and while short cooldowns are rather integral to basic DPS already, I noticed myself pressing the longer 1.5 minute ones even when fighting basic enemies. And why not, right? It might only save you ~10 seconds or so questing, but not only does that time add up, it’s the equivalent of adding ~10 seconds to mob grinding each time the cooldown would have refreshed without you using it. So yeah, brain, there is an opportunity cost to pressing the button when you might have needed it later, but there is an equal opportunity cost for not pressing it.


As an aside, my WoW subscription has technically expired despite having 10 WoW Tokens (the maximum) – I figure there isn’t much of a point of playing more until patch 7.1.5. Yeah, I would be missing on selling Felwort and some lucrative WQs, but would I make ~58k gold in 30 days? Probably not. I might go ahead and spend one if I get in a mood, but we’ll see if GW2 and other games assuage the withdraw.

Posted on December 20, 2016, in WoW and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I have always seen this in an entirely different way. When I played a cleric as main healer in EQ I judged my performance by two things: how safe the rest of the party felt and how few heals I cast. Balancing my activity between trying to keep everyone in the party topped up to a level that made them comfortable while simultaneously casting the least heals I could kept me entertained and amused for years.

    These days, playing most characters in most games, usually solo but not always, I judge my performance in part by how little I can use any “specials”, which would mostly be abilities on significant cooldowns. By and large I’m not saving them because I fear not having them up at a later stage (although that can be a factor on occasion) but because I consider using them to be louche, lazy or inelegant. I always feel a little disappointed in myself if I *have* to use a special so I’d feel really feeble if I used one just to save a few seconds. It’s not like I’m punching a clock, after all. Why would I care if a fight lasts 15 seconds instead of ten?


    • I find myself more sensitive to opportunity cost scenarios (the cost of playing videogames generally aside). Plus, some classes/specs feel downright weak without the cooldowns. For example, Frost Death Knights in WoW have a strong DPS buff on a 1-minute cooldown, that finishes faster with certain talents. If you aren’t pressing that as many times as possible, you might as well be speccing Unholy.

      But, otherwise, yeah. I get where you are coming from.


  2. Using cooldowns regularly has pretty much always been the way to play a Rogue, your reaction was/is pretty normal. Rogues never had any long active cooldown, they were all part of the tool box, tools you were expected to use often and part of the class lore so to speak.

    Rogue being my main class for several years, I had the opposite experience : when playing other classes, I didn’t see why I should spare my cooldowns.


  3. I wonder if anyone takes the lazy route like I do and macros your cooldowns to regular rotation abilities? I do this even on my Warrior tank, as Shield Block is macro’d to Devastate, and I think I have Ignore Pain macro’d with Shield Slam. I don’t know if this approach would work with Mythic+ or raids, but I don’t run that content much anyway. For world quests it works great, and it means I’ll be firing those cooldowns whenever they’re available without having to worry about extra buttons.


    • Yes, I’ve heard of some people doing this, but it is generally a bad idea, and especially so for progression endgame. For example, when every bit of damage/healing/mitigation matters, you don’t want your big cooldown to fire just before some long downtime due to fight mechanics.
      For easier content, sure, it “works”, but so does not even using the cooldowns.


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