Weapon skill and target dummies

4th January 2009 – 3.59 pm

When I got a new two-handed mace for my death knight from Northrend I had a weapon skill of one, which meant my mace would be swinging at air for at least the first couple of hundred attempts to hit something. Rather than getting pounded to a paste by competent Northrend mobs whilst I worked out which blunt end of the mace I should be holding I headed back to Stormwind for some target practice on convicts in the Stockades.

As I was writing about my lack of adventure in learning how to swing a mace in the Stockades I realised that perhaps my time would have been better spent setting auto-attack on a target dummy and going away from my keyboard (AFK) to do something more productive. These thoughts generally only occur after I could have benefited, but I write them down anyway just in case someone else can learn from my experience. As luck would have it I can make subsequent use of this idea after Sapphire earns a nifty-looking fist weapon from a walrus in Northrend and wants to use it in anger.

Despite being disarmed on numerous occasions, bringing up my unarmed skill significantly, which also happens to be the skill used for fist weapons, I am still not skilled enough in the weapon type to be confident in my continuing Northrend adventuring just yet. I could probably survive mob encounters on the new continent, but they would probably be made tediously long and require plenty of resting between fights. With my recent experience with Blighty, as I have come to refer to my death knight, I shove the fist weapon in my backpack and wait until I am back in a city, whereupon I find a target dummy and start attacking. I wait for my unarmed weapon skill to improve before going AFK and finding something more fulfilling to do.

And I wait, and wait, yet my skill doesn't improve. I am sure I would have at least got a single weapon skill point improvement by this point. I investigate further. I grab Gnomesblight and see that she has no weapon skill in one-handed maces. I buy the cheapest mace on the auction house and run up to a target dummy. Sure enough, as I have no skill in wielding my mace I keep missing the dummy, and my weapon skill doesn't improve.

It seems that attacking a target dummy will not improve weapon skills. This is quite disappointing. I can appreciate the use of target dummies in being able to work out spell rotations and improving DPS, such as I did recently in testing the relative damage potential of the death knight presences, so they are far from useless, but not being able to improve weapon skills is a glaring omission of a target dummy's usefulness.

Training a weapon skill from being initially untrained is remarkably tedious and unproductive, earning no benefit for the player or character. Having to be active in finding suitable mobs on whom to practice for the sole purpose of being able to improve to the point where you can attack your actual targets, where you are currently questing, is a waste of time. Weapon skill either needs to be removed or made much more convenient and quick to improve, which the target dummies could easily have achieved. Considering how much Blizzard has improved and streamlined World of Warcraft it surprises me that such a mechanic is still in the game.