Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blood Pact: Fear kiting 101

Everyone talks about fear being overpowered in PvP, but that's not a discussion we're going to have today No, here we're going to talk about using Fear in PvE situations, where it can easily be just as useful. The main reason for this is that Fear in PvE isn't on diminishing returns. You can cast it until you run out of mana (though it costs 12% of your base mana per cast), and your target will never become immune. Compare this to Fear in PvP, where your target will become immune on your forth attempt to fear it. And while it has a chance of breaking on damage in both PvE and PvP, its maximum duration in PvE is twice as long as its PvP duration (at least it will be as of patch 2.2).

With a 20-second duration and no diminishing returns, you can kill nearly anything that you can Fear, and if you want to know how, just keep reading!

The first step to successful fear kiting is finding an appropriate target. Because Fear causes a monster to wander widely, it's important that you take care when selecting a target. If your target is surrounded by numerous other friendly creatures, fear could easily cause it to run right to the nearest friendly mob, which will head right to you. Of course, you can control this to some extent by slapping Curse of Recklessness on your target if it gets too close to something else (which will negate the fear effect and cause the mob to run right back at you), but if there's a lot of mobs in the area, bouncing fear on and of your target is going to start cutting into your DPS and your mana pool.

I'll demonstrate using the target I learned the technique on -- Hererine Slayers in Winterspring. They're level 59 elite demons that usually required a small group of level 60 players to kill. I was attempting to farm an Eye of Shadow for my Priest at the time, and didn't always have a group to run around with, so I spent some time figuring out how to take them down on my own as a Warlock. They're a good target because they're spread out evenly throughout the area they're in -- none of them are clumped together in groups, so you won't get adds -- and, since they're demons, you can also use Banish on them if you need it.

Then, for a Demonology spec Warlock (that would be me), I like to Demonic Sacrifice a Voidwalker, which will allow me to restore 2% of my total health every 4 seconds. This allows me to Life Tap like mad and gives extra leeway to take hits. However, if I weren't Demonology specced, or I were fighting something that might give me adds, I'd keep out something with a taunt ability -- a Voidwalker or a Felguard -- to keep the target off of me and buy time to recast fears if one breaks before I'm ready. (However, non-Demonology Warlocks may also prefer the Succubus or Imp for increased damage output, and simply rely on keeping their target feared perfectly.)

When fear kiting, you're keeping your target feared for the majority of the fight. (In a perfect world, your target would be feared for the entire fight -- but fear can be resisted, break early, or break on damage, so it won't always work this way.) You're not killing your target with direct damage (which has a high probability of breaking fear) but with DoTs, which are less likely to break fear and will continue doing damage even when your target has run out of range (which they often do) or you run low on mana. Here's the basic process:

  1. If there are mobs around your target that are friendly to it (i.e. will run after you if your target runs too close to them), clear out the area before you start. The more room you have, the easier this is going to be.
  2. Cast Fear on your target. (If you need to pull your target away from a group, then pull it with whatever your longest-range spell is and cast Fear as soon as it gets in range. Curse of Shadow is a good choice to pull with, as it highly reduces the chance of your Fears being resisted, and if you don't cast it first, you'll probably cast it second, anyway.)
  3. If you haven't already, cast Curse of Shadow. This makes it less likely for your Fears to be resisted, meaning you spend less time re-casting it, meaning you have more time and mana to DPS with. (However, some mobs might not have high enough shadow resistance for this to be an issue. You may want to try your target both with and without CoS, and replace it with CoA if resists aren't a big problem.)
  4. Load up your target with all possible DoTs.
  5. When Fear breaks, stop whatever you're doing and re-cast it. You may find it easier to recast every 10 seconds or every 15 seconds -- i.e. re-cast before it breaks. If you get the timing down right, this means you have no chance of getting hit. However, I usually wait until fear has broken to cast it again -- there's more of a chance I'll accidentally take a hit or two, but it also means I'm not burning mana on Fear unless it's absolutely necessary.
  6. Use Drain Life, Death Coil, bandages, healthstones, and Life Tap to regain health and mana as needed.
  7. If you need to buy yourself some time, and your target is a demon or elemental -- Banish it! Since Banish won't break early the way Fear can, this gives you some guaranteed time to bandage, summon a new pet, conjure a new healthstone, etc.
  8. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 until target is dead.
  9. Loot!
  10. Find a new target and start over again.
The downsides to fear kiting something to death? Well, it takes more time than burning a target down with straight-out DPS, but if you're not able to DPS something down faster than it can kill you, this is a very viable method of taking it out.

Have any of your own tips and tricks for fear kiting? Have any recommendations on good places to use this technique? Share them in our comments!

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