Guide to Keybinding and Strafing in MMORPGs


The Default Keybinds for MMORPGs are Wrong

The default keybinds for every MMORPG do not support skillful play.

Consider this illustrative keybinding diagram from the game RIFT (this is not a knock on RIFT, which is a good game):

RIFT's Default KeybindsWhat we see is that the vast majority of useful keybinds for your left hand are being used for:

  • a common movement setup – WSAD and QE – that is incredibly limiting (more on this later)
  • UI functions that have no relevance to actual combat, e.g. “G” for Guild panel, “B” for Bags, etc

All you have to work with is the number key, and unless you have the reach of Liberacci, that leaves you with only 6 keybinds (“1″ through “6”) to work with for your abilities. This entire approach makes no sense.

Many players accept it as-is and work around it, either by adding modifiers (i.e. Shift/Control/Alt) to trigger abilities or getting hardware that helps to address the lack of available keybinds.

However, most players don’t address the root issue – by not fixing the default keybindings you are placing an artificial ceiling on your skill level. It’s like trying to run but with your feet chained together. Yes, you can do it, but no, you’ll never hit your potential stride, and that’s what this is all about. Raising your gameplay.

By comparison, here are the keybinds that I used for RIFT:

Taugrim's RIFT Keybinds

I have over 20 keybinds to activate abilities / macros with a single keypress, which enables me to to fluidly circle-strafe and kite-strafe while activating abilities.

So I’ve provided a couple examples of my keybinds. Before you start re-mapping your keybinds, there is something you must understand first…

Before You Keybind, You Must Understand What Proper Movement Looks Like

Real life combat is all about good movement. Flanking your opponent. Taking angles to set up your punches and kicks. The same principles apply to combat in MMORPGs.

Any keybindings setup should

  1. provide the ability to circle-strafe and kite-strafe to keep a target in your facing as much as possible, and
  2. enable high fidelity / accuracy for using abilities quickly, and
  3. not give you carpal tunnel :)

As discussed in the video, the setup I have landed on after years of iteration and tweaking is:

  • right hand on the mouse for character turn, camera rotation, and forward movement
  • left hand for left strafe, right strafe, and all abilities
  • for games where there is a dodge mechanic or aiming that requires you to keep your target in front of you, I bind backward movement as well

Here’s another illustrative video of how to strafe-kite properly, with footage from the game RIFT:

Please note that I do not use a gaming mouse (e.g. Razer Naga gaming mouse), nor do I have any plans to do so, as I do not have a need. Moreover, games such as GW2 and WildStar are continuing the trend towards action combat with limited number of abilities, so there are fewer abilities to keybind. That said, if you feel you perform better with gaming hardware, great, stick with what works for you.

Keybinding is a sensitive topic, so keep in mind that the intention of this video is to show “one way of thinking about it.” The way that you feel comfortable setting up your keybinds may be very different from mine – what matters is that you are able to execute the 3 numbered points above. I’ve had many gamers adopt my setup or its philosophy and they have reported good success. YMMV.

How to Learn New Keybindings

Realize that rebinding your keys is one of the most disruptive things you can do. It’s like learning to walk all over again. Therefore, you have to be patient. It typically takes a week of playing to get the muscle memory down for a new setup.

Do not remap your keybinds and then queue up for PVP or join a PVE raid. You will find yourself struggling and getting frustrated, because your natural reactions are to use your old keybinds. And then you’ll come blame me, and I’ll have to quote this section.

The easiest way to learn a new set of keybinds is to roll a new character, experiment, and by the time you hit level 10 or so, you’ll be well on your way to feeling much more comfortable with it. At that point you can try your new keybinds on higher-level characters.

Let me know how it goes!

Game-Specific Keybinding Guides

Per reader request, I have created keybinding maps and guides for specific games, given that each game has particular mechanics that should be accounted for:

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285 comments on “Guide to Keybinding and Strafing in MMORPGs
  1. Corlin says:

    This is actually a very good blog post Taur, even though I already do most of this, for a player looking for setup tips, this is explained so clearly and the illustrations are superb. Well done that man.

  2. McGuirk says:

    Hell of guide! Thanks a bunch! It definitely takes some getting used to but it is a metric crapton better than what I had my old bindings as and I can already feel myself getting way more efficient.

  3. Alex says:

    Really great guide! I have been looking for something like this.
    I was planing to roll a new toon in swtor, a vanguard actually, and I was hoping to begin learning this new key setup while leveling. I will copycat your proposal at the start and adjust to my own preference as I learn new abilities. Unfortunately, on your vanguard Iron Fist guide which I also liked very much, the exact key bindings are not visible. If possible I would like some more specifics: I am relatively new to this kind of game play in general, many terms and definitions you pro’s use are still a bit vague to me, and I am not actually sure which abilities fall in which category… Could you share your swtor bindings for Iron Fist as an example?

  4. connor fletcher says:

    Im a lil confused what did you change ur movement keys to?

  5. Ronen says:

    Taugrim, could you make a video or post about what your keybindings are specifically for SWTOR? There are some specific abilities that I’m not quite sure where the optimal placement would be. However, I would like to say that this is a great general guide and has revolutionized my gameplay. For instance, from your teachings I topped the damage in a huttball match today with 220k with my lvl 14 BH alt so thank you for all that you do.

  6. Azurebonds says:

    Hi Taugrim
    Great guide that has given me plenty of food for thought about my setup. I apologise if this has been answered elsewhere but I couldn’t see it. What keybinding do you use to get the most out of the cover mechanic for the smuggler or sniper in SWTOR? Using this skill changes the available abilities. Many thanks

  7. Ontel says:

    I guess I missed it. I am getting this set up now for SWTOR, but how do you move forward? Do you just use auto run? I understand straffing and can move around in circle ,but have trouble going forward/backward.

    • taugrim says:

      Ontel :

      I guess I missed it. I am getting this set up now for SWTOR, but how do you move forward? Do you just use auto run? I understand straffing and can move around in circle ,but have trouble going forward/backward.

      Press both mouse buttons for move forward. It’s the default keybinding IIRC.

  8. goofydk says:

    Very nice, thank you :)

    Something I will try for sure.

  9. rptb1 says:

    In WoW as PvP hunter I found myself strafing left 99% of the time, so I played for a while with just one movement key! That was a bit too extreme, but it still worked OK. The first thing I do in any MMO is bind the action bar to 1234QERFVZXC (and yes, with things like Z always being interrupt) but I think you have some improvements here for me, so thanks!

    • matic says:

      Small tip i discovered purely by accident. I removed my space bar and replaced it with the right alt key. Makes it easier to hit x c v and b. Now i just use my thumb for those keys whereas before the space bar got in the way forcing me to make a bit of a finger leap.

    • taugrim says:

      rptb1 :

      In WoW as PvP hunter I found myself strafing left 99% of the time, so I played for a while with just one movement key! That was a bit too extreme, but it still worked OK. The first thing I do in any MMO is bind the action bar to 1234QERFVZXC (and yes, with things like Z always being interrupt) but I think you have some improvements here for me, so thanks!

      Well you don’t want to be like Zoolander, who could only turn left. If possible you should get used to strafing in both directions, although technically even if you only strafe left you can do it in either direction by simply flipping your facing.

  10. Lithops says:

    I rarely played any game for the pass 3 years, now I decided to buy a new computer and give a try to SWTOR. I decided it’s was a good time to improuve my gamer’s skill too and this is how I did find your youtube channel and your site. Passing from clicking to keybinding was the first thing I wanted to change ( realized that I was mixing both style of playing o.0 lol ). This information will be very useful for me in a month and looking forward to improve my gaming ‘s skill and understand better how mmo work. This my goal and once confortable may even give a try at pvp. Thank a lot !

    • taugrim says:

      Lithops :

      Passing from clicking to keybinding was the first thing I wanted to change ( realized that I was mixing both style of playing o.0 lol ). This information will be very useful for me in a month and looking forward to improve my gaming ‘s skill and understand better how mmo work. This my goal and once confortable may even give a try at pvp. Thank a lot !

      Let us know how it goes!

  11. Core says:

    Which button you use to go forward ?

    • Core says:

      Well , i am serious about this question.I am not a rift player.I want to try this key setup for another mmo.So i dont know if you mean *forward* with “charge” or do you use to go forward with mouse button ?

    • taugrim says:

      Core :

      Which button you use to go forward ?

      Press both mouse buttons.

  12. Jordan says:

    I was pointed here today by the SWTOR boards after admitting I was a bad pvp Marauder and I am a button clicker.

    Going to go home tonight and do exactly what is suggested, set up keybinds on my lvl 22 alt and work on the muscle memory. Thanks for the great guide.

  13. Jason Egan says:

    My only question here is how you strafe and attack at the same time. It seems you’d have to take your fingers off of the strafing keys to move to the attack keys.

    • taugrim says:

      Jason Egan :

      My only question here is how you strafe and attack at the same time. It seems you’d have to take your fingers off of the strafing keys to move to the attack keys.

      You strafe in 1 direction at a time, so your other 3 fingers (and thumb) are available for skill use.

  14. Bobloblaw says:

    Taugrim,

    Have you tried the Razer Naga (or similar mouse setup)? If so, how does that affect your bindings?

    • taugrim says:

      Bobloblaw :

      Have you tried the Razer Naga (or similar mouse setup)? If so, how does that affect your bindings?

      No, I haven’t tried a Naga.

      SWTOR with the dozens of abilities per class is the first game where I’ve considered getting a Naga, but I’ve been able to make the keybindings work without hardware support.

      • Dano says:

        Has anyone tried the Nostrommo N52Left Hand Controller? It includes 14 programmable keys plus a Thumb Pad that’s handy for movement.

  15. shreddi says:

    Thanks much I have been using this basic setup from beginning, nice now all games let you remap. I notice you go straight accross the q row, I am using the a row so my finger can locate the indent on f key when needed (typing for over a few decades so used to home keys :)). I like the idea of having the number keys closer even though i surround my weapons and actions around the sdf and c for reverse. I think ill move up a row now. Thanks again for this. So very generous of you. Your other videos and guides are the best ever done too. Very cool. I didnt see you have a move forward or back key on the bottom chart. both mouse buttons?

  16. Chris says:

    I am new to PC games in general but especially to mmos, SWTOR being my first step in i am having trouble relating the attacks/abilities shown here to the ones in the game. My UI is a mess and I can see this is just what i need but i cant bridge the gap between different terms.. I’m in for the long haul (PC games) so any help will be greatly appreciated!!

    • taugrim says:

      Chris :

      I am new to PC games in general but especially to mmos, SWTOR being my first step in i am having trouble relating the attacks/abilities shown here to the ones in the game. My UI is a mess and I can see this is just what i need but i cant bridge the gap between different terms.. I’m in for the long haul (PC games) so any help will be greatly appreciated!!

      You can watch any of my recorded streams, hit the Pause button, then look at the keybindings I have.

  17. CDTalmas says:

    One thing I have to say about your keyboard setup is that it’s… addicting? I find myself unable to really go back to the WASD method now. It does kinda suck as I’m not 100% used to your setup. I keep pressing the E key, launching my smoke grenade (Vanguard), and also lose track of where I am on the keyboard (hitting 2 instead of 3 for my spam attack). Are there any tips or advice you can give for easing into the new layout rather than struggling against it? I’ve been practicing on mobs for some time (read: about a week now) but it still feels both comfortable and alien.

    Though, truly, it’s probably just practice makes perfect. I enjoy your keyboard layout and am going to make the best of it… somehow!

    PS. Cleanse? Is this a bit different than the CC breaker?

    • taugrim says:

      CDTalmas :

      One thing I have to say about your keyboard setup is that it’s… addicting? I find myself unable to really go back to the WASD method now. It does kinda suck as I’m not 100% used to your setup. I keep pressing the E key, launching my smoke grenade (Vanguard), and also lose track of where I am on the keyboard (hitting 2 instead of 3 for my spam attack). Are there any tips or advice you can give for easing into the new layout rather than struggling against it? I’ve been practicing on mobs for some time (read: about a week now) but it still feels both comfortable and alien.

      Though, truly, it’s probably just practice makes perfect. I enjoy your keyboard layout and am going to make the best of it… somehow!

      It takes time to re-train your muscle memory. It’s only been a week. The longer you play with the new setup, the more accurate you’ll become with it.

      CDTalmas :

      PS. Cleanse? Is this a bit different than the CC breaker?

      Cleanse is an ability to remove a harmful debuff. Not all classes have it.

  18. shreddi says:

    Thanks again for clarifying the forward move. I dont think im ready for that yet :). I read the post saying the keybinds are addicting and Yes they are, but fortunately I dont know of any games out now that wont allow you to remap. Its a good thing :)

  19. Kev says:

    Hey man,

    Firstly, thanks for the epic guides – I LOVE the Vanguard IronFist spec, it’s really made SW:TOR enjoyable for me, especially as I got 3 guys to ~25 before I read your guide, I tried it and loved it.

    Question, what do you use for targeting (switching targets)?

    Macros for marking targets?

    Ever used a seen a Nostromo? http://store.razerzone.com/store/razerusa/en_US/pd/productID.221675100 I use one now but as I reach higher levels bindings are becoming limited :(

    cheers,

    p.s. any chance we could see the full mapping for your IronFist? ;)

  20. zezza04 says:

    As a healer do don’t play PvP and only PvE, would you recomend this setup?
    I as this Because:
    1st – this setup seems to be focused on the aspect of movement in PvP, where as as a healer in PvE you movement is very much limited.
    2nd – As healer in PvE you will in 19/20 encounters not do any dmg what so ever, so there is no need to make dmg-keybindngs easier than a modifier can handle.

    Have you tried a PvE healer in SW:TOR with these keybindings, and if so, how does it wokr for you? wouldn’t the standard be more or less sufficient?

    • taugrim says:

      zezza04 :

      As a healer do don’t play PvP and only PvE, would you recomend this setup?
      I as this Because:
      1st – this setup seems to be focused on the aspect of movement in PvP, where as as a healer in PvE you movement is very much limited.
      2nd – As healer in PvE you will in 19/20 encounters not do any dmg what so ever, so there is no need to make dmg-keybindngs easier than a modifier can handle.

      Have you tried a PvE healer in SW:TOR with these keybindings, and if so, how does it wokr for you? wouldn’t the standard be more or less sufficient?

      I have played a healer in PVP and PVE in many games, and in many boss fights, you have to be able to move and heal on-the-run.

      Having good keybindings is critical for any class or spec IMO.

      I’ve had no problem binding both heals and damage abilities without having to use modifiers, e.g. see my videos of my Melee Healing Cleric from RIFT.

      • zezza04 says:

        I am trying it out none the less. Might as well see how it works with Operative healing :)
        I was wondering if you have the template-file on your HDD which you used to make this image? Because I would like to have it with your permission, so that I can use it for illustrating my keybindings for Operatives.

  21. Jesren says:

    Hi Ed, your a legend as always!
    I have to say that was educational and I’ve been MMOing for many years.

    I’d love you to look at the nostramo pad and naga mouse combo. I play with these and its stopped consistant pain in my left hand (the nostramo is a better shape than a keyboard)
    Would you stick to similer binds if you had the nostramo/naga set up?\\

    Thanks

    • taugrim says:

      Jesren :

      I’d love you to look at the nostramo pad and naga mouse combo. I play with these and its stopped consistant pain in my left hand (the nostramo is a better shape than a keyboard)
      Would you stick to similer binds if you had the nostramo/naga set up?\\

      Thanks

      Not sure, since I’ve never tried a Nostromo nor Naga.

      In your case, if it helped you get rid of repetitive stress pain, that is the #1 consideration. A lot of people end up with severely debilitating repetitive stress injury because they play through pain.

  22. Chuddox says:

    One of the best PvPers I’ver ever met is a clicker, which I think is hilarious because the majority of pvper s seem to be elitist button pushers (myself included). He is also the highest raid dps across several games our guild has tried. I’m not sure how he does it, but he is pretty amazing, so I think there comes a time where you just have to recognize what works for you even if its not the accepted norm.

    • taugrim says:

      Chuddox :

      One of the best PvPers I’ver ever met is a clicker, which I think is hilarious because the majority of pvper s seem to be elitist button pushers (myself included). He is also the highest raid dps across several games our guild has tried. I’m not sure how he does it, but he is pretty amazing, so I think there comes a time where you just have to recognize what works for you even if its not the accepted norm.

      Over the past 4 years, I have met 2 players that were highly skilled who were clickers. One of them, surprisingly, played MDPS, which is typically much harder to do as a clicker. RDPS that are cast-time players because they don’t have to move as much.

      The movement thing is typically where clickers have a harder time, especially turning to keep targets in front of them quickly.

      Does your guildee play SWTOR? That game has a ton of abilities per class (25+), which I think would make it harder for clicking, due to the amount of travel distance would be needed for clicking on abilities, as compared to games where you have maybe 12-15 abilities per class.

  23. Beregor says:

    Can you add something more about your keybindings as a Vanguard in SWTOR?

  24. Beregor says:

    Also, would you recommend your keybinding for someone who rarely do pvp? Mostly PVE?

  25. Gildarts says:

    Beregor :
    Can you add something more about your keybindings as a Vanguard in SWTOR?

    I would also like a swtor set up for keybindings so now that i’m a 50 pt pyrotech i can step up my pvp game. Also thanks for all the great guides you have been providing us for games.

  26. raidendM says:

    Hey Taugrim, I must say that your keybind guide is exactly what I was looking for and have been using it for ~4 months in swtor with a lot of success. I got to play the GW2 beta weekend this past weekend but I found it a little hard to translate the keybinds since the dodge mechanics seem to favor a WASD setup (such as the forward dodge/roll). Any tips on how to keybind for GW2?

    • Bobloblaw says:

      Buy a Razr Naga. It’s expensive, but trust me, it’s worth it. 17 buttons of freedom. Pretty much all your actions will be controlled by your right hand with the mouse buttons, leaving your left hand free for a WASD setup, with extra space for misc. bindings.

    • taugrim says:

      raidendM :

      Hey Taugrim, I must say that your keybind guide is exactly what I was looking for and have been using it for ~4 months in swtor with a lot of success. I got to play the GW2 beta weekend this past weekend but I found it a little hard to translate the keybinds since the dodge mechanics seem to favor a WASD setup (such as the forward dodge/roll). Any tips on how to keybind for GW2?

      Pretty simple:
      1. rebind F1-F4 to ASDF
      2. bind W/R for strafe and E for dodge roll
      3. rebind 6-0 to ZXCVB

      Done.

    • taugrim says:

      raidendM :

      Hey Taugrim, I must say that your keybind guide is exactly what I was looking for and have been using it for ~4 months in swtor with a lot of success. I got to play the GW2 beta weekend this past weekend but I found it a little hard to translate the keybinds since the dodge mechanics seem to favor a WASD setup (such as the forward dodge/roll). Any tips on how to keybind for GW2?

      I posted my keybindings for GW2, after some iteration and testing:
      http://taugrim.com/2012/06/27/my-keybindings-for-guild-wars-2/

  27. servant2work4god says:

    Very good article, will be trying this out next beta weekend for Guild Wars 2 :)

  28. Osterneth says:

    Great guide; I’m just curious if you’ve played TERA and if so, how you set up your movement binds in that game, given that afaik you can’t use double mouse click to move forward.

  29. Toxin says:

    This has been a fantastic read and watch. Ive been playing a ton of SWTOR PVP lately and Ive gotten to the point where I realize that my mobility (or lack thereof) is limiting me and the next thing that I need to work on. This article has helped open me up to a new world of possibilities of controls. Moving forward with the mouse is not something I would have tried but I might as well give it a try.

    I just started a new character and am trying to move from WASD to ESF and incorporate a lot more strafing and movement into my game. Its a real pain to learn though, I find myself not knowing what buttons to push or pressing the wrong ones all too often. Hopefully I can get used to it and translate it to my main and bring up my PVP to the next level.

    What are your thoughts on ESF movement? The main problem I see with this is using TAB to target – awkward with pink, and to use ring finger I have to take it away from S for movement. I may try using Q for targeting instead if TAB doesnt work out. Also, the middle finger seems a bit limited in this setup… But it does allow me to use QAZ for abilities.

    • taugrim says:

      Toxin :

      What are your thoughts on ESF movement? The main problem I see with this is using TAB to target – awkward with pink, and to use ring finger I have to take it away from S for movement. I may try using Q for targeting instead if TAB doesnt work out. Also, the middle finger seems a bit limited in this setup… But it does allow me to use QAZ for abilities.

      If ESF works for you, go for it.

      Most important thing is that forward should be activated with your middle finger, and strafe left and right with your ring and index fingers respectively.

  30. Aylinn says:

    Nice guide. I have 2 major issues with PVPing in Rift however: targetting and backing up. Targetting seems more difficult while using the mouse for movement and turning because you can’t really use the mouse for that purpose anymore. Also sometimes I need to just simply back up without strafing.

    Any advice?

    • taugrim says:

      Aylinn :

      Nice guide. I have 2 major issues with PVPing in Rift however: targetting and backing up. Targetting seems more difficult while using the mouse for movement and turning because you can’t really use the mouse for that purpose anymore. Also sometimes I need to just simply back up without strafing.

      Any advice?

      Do you click-target only?

      You can tab target when there aren’t too many targets. I click-target when there is a particular target in a scrum that I want to select quickly.

  31. Churchland says:

    What are your keybindings for GW2? Thanks.

  32. [...] on his keybinding, which I don’t use, and his techniques for circle strafing, which I do. http://taugrim.com/2011/04/07/guide-to-strafing-movement-and-keybindings/ )  If I’ve taken damage, I’ll often cast my first heal. Ether Feast (6 key) BEFORE I [...]

  33. Shreddi says:

    Tried but have over 40 years traditional typing and adjusted gameplay to home keys since early 80’s. I like you’re ideas but can’t teach an old dog new tricks I guess. I really like the feel of knowing where keys are without looking and they put the raised dots on f and j. Funny how they keep that tradition after all these years. Thanks again for sharing your stuff.

  34. Macbrave1 says:

    I’ve been considering changing to keys/keybinds for some time and after seeing some of your guides though I’d give it a go. I rolled a new toon, an OP in star wars. I’m up to 5 buttons and the mouse for moving forward but have hit a wall at anything above that. Even the five buttons (left/right strafe, and three attacks I can use while moving.) is hard with muscles tensing up etc and after a really hard fight I find myself leaning across the table as the keyboard and mouse end up as far away from me as possible, lol.

    If it wouldn’t be giving away any ‘secrets’ what I’d find fantastic (and I’m sure others would as well) would be if you could make a video in split screen. One so we can see what your character is doing and the other so we could see what your fingers are doing. I can’t for the life of me understand how you make some of the moves you do. You sure you aint got extra fingers, lol, and extra long…. :)

    • taugrim says:

      Macbrave1 :

      If it wouldn’t be giving away any ‘secrets’ what I’d find fantastic (and I’m sure others would as well) would be if you could make a video in split screen. One so we can see what your character is doing and the other so we could see what your fingers are doing. I can’t for the life of me understand how you make some of the moves you do. You sure you aint got extra fingers, lol, and extra long…. :)

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a 2nd webcam to record my keyboard.

      I have average reach with my fingers. It’s just a matter of finding the simplest keybinding setup and practice.

  35. Maver says:

    Bro your guides have been awesome and this key mapping is great, but do can you post your GW2 Key bindings as well? I’ve watched your BWE videos, and as usual your PVP strafing and movement abilities are sick, and i’m trying to wrap my head around GW2’s “double-tapping forward to dodge” as I use my mouse to move. Help?! :)

    • taugrim says:

      Maver :

      Bro your guides have been awesome and this key mapping is great, but do can you post your GW2 Key bindings as well? I’ve watched your BWE videos, and as usual your PVP strafing and movement abilities are sick, and i’m trying to wrap my head around GW2′s “double-tapping forward to dodge” as I use my mouse to move. Help?! :)

      1-5: default
      W/R: strafe left/right
      E/D: forward/dodge
      Q: healing skill
      ASF: utility skills (default: 7-9)
      G: elite skill (default: 0)
      ZXCV: special abilities (default: F1-F4)

  36. [...] I mentioned in my Guide to Strafing and Keybinding, I use my ring and index fingers to strafe, which is intuitive and natural. Likewise, my middle [...]

  37. Macbrave1 says:

    Its been about 3/4 weeks now and I can really feel the difference. Great guide, glad I’ve made the switch.

    Taugrim, how do you treat the rooted skills in say SWtOR. I have a sniper at level 19 and out of the main 11 skills so far 5 are only usable from cover. Do you still have these bound to keys. Can’t see any benefit from taking up space near your fingers when clicking on theses skill is just as quick as you are rooted so don’t need to be worrying about strafing.

    On a slightly different note and a general observation with strafing and using the mouse buttons for forward (and I’m sure you know this Taugrim, this is for others like me, complete beginners). You don’t always have to be left/right strafing and pressing both mouse buttons. Under some circumstances you can use the mouse buttons only, freeing fingers on your left hand for other things. As a melee char for example, you can actualy run around the enemy simply using the mouse buttons. And also, if your strafing straight left or right, you don’t need to have your hand on the mouse buttons, freeing those fingers for other things (strafing and then pressing the right mouse button allows you to use the mouse for small direction changes while still strafing directly left or right).

    • taugrim says:

      Macbrave1 :

      Its been about 3/4 weeks now and I can really feel the difference. Great guide, glad I’ve made the switch.

      Awesome. You’ve already made it through the painful part of transitioning to a new setup.

      Macbrave1 :

      Taugrim, how do you treat the rooted skills in say SWtOR. I have a sniper at level 19 and out of the main 11 skills so far 5 are only usable from cover. Do you still have these bound to keys. Can’t see any benefit from taking up space near your fingers when clicking on theses skill is just as quick as you are rooted so don’t need to be worrying about strafing.

      Do you mean the cast-time skills? E.g. Snipe, Ambush, etc? I have those maps alongside my other abilities, because they’re bread-and-butter in my rotation as a Sharpshooter (Marksmanship) Gunslinger (Sniper).

      E.g. you can see them in the video here:

      Macbrave1 :

      On a slightly different note and a general observation with strafing and using the mouse buttons for forward (and I’m sure you know this Taugrim, this is for others like me, complete beginners). You don’t always have to be left/right strafing and pressing both mouse buttons. Under some circumstances you can use the mouse buttons only, freeing fingers on your left hand for other things. As a melee char for example, you can actualy run around the enemy simply using the mouse buttons. And also, if your strafing straight left or right, you don’t need to have your hand on the mouse buttons, freeing those fingers for other things (strafing and then pressing the right mouse button allows you to use the mouse for small direction changes while still strafing directly left or right).

      I used to do this, back in WoW on my Feral Druid. The issue is that if you are not strafing, and simply running back and forth through your target (I used to run figure 8’s), every time you pass through your target, you are giving up your back until you turn around again.

      So now I no longer do it, unless I am trying to run through an opponent in a game where breaking LoS will cancel their cast.

  38. Thaurlach says:

    I realize backpedaling is a no-no in a combat scenario, but how do you do it when you’re just running around? It seems kind of inconvenient if the only way to move backwards is to hit the down arrow key.

    • taugrim says:

      Thaurlach :

      I realize backpedaling is a no-no in a combat scenario, but how do you do it when you’re just running around? It seems kind of inconvenient if the only way to move backwards is to hit the down arrow key.

      If I need to move backwards, I strafe in that direction.

  39. [...] Use os keybinds: Tente mapear todas as habilidades importantes no teclado. O tempo de reação para clicar com o mouse é muito alto para o pvp. Cada um tem seu estilo para isso. Eu uso 1-5, QERTFGZXVB, Roda do Mouse, Shift+Roda do mouse, quatro botões extras do mouse e Shift + quatro botões extras do mouse, totalizando 25 atalhos. Algumas pessoas são mais coordenadas e conseguem chegar a mais de 50 atalhos rápidos. (comprei um mouse com mais botões especialmente pra pvp, tem alguns modelos bem baratos a disposição). Veja esse guia e o vídeo abaixo Guide  to Strafing Movement and Keybindings. [...]

  40. Thaurlach says:

    And then I am also curious as to how you incorporate ground-targeted skills such as Stealth Scan in SWTOR and the whole lot of them in Guild Wars 2 into your movement. How do you keep moving while choosing your targeted area for these types of AOEs, since you only use the mouse to move? Do you just strafe until you use the skill then go back to using the mouse to move, or am I missing something?

    • taugrim says:

      Thaurlach :

      And then I am also curious as to how you incorporate ground-targeted skills such as Stealth Scan in SWTOR and the whole lot of them in Guild Wars 2 into your movement. How do you keep moving while choosing your targeted area for these types of AOEs, since you only use the mouse to move? Do you just strafe until you use the skill then go back to using the mouse to move, or am I missing something?

      That has been a limitation with my SWTOR setup.

      What I’ve done in GW2 is use “E” for forward and “D” for dodge roll. Works great. I can hold E down while ground-targeting AOE with my mouse.

      Problem solved.

  41. [...] +Josh Nesbitt http://taugrim.com/2011/04/07/guide-to-strafing-movement-and-keybindings/ [...]

  42. [...] by learning how to move like a champ so that you’re not an obvious treat to others, then look at the videos and [...]

  43. cocoloco says:

    Hi, and thanks for your fine builds :)

    Personnally, i do not use keyboard to move.
    My moves are quite entirely binded on my mouse, 1+2 to move on, 3 for auto, 4 and 5 to straff left and right, and 6 for backwards (this is optional, as backwards is of poor use, but my mouse allows it)
    I keep jump binded on space bar, as it must remains dissociate form others moves. On GW2, my next game, dodge will also be binded on a key, for easy use with mouse buttons.
    All my spells, as for all MMORPG i ever played, will be binded on keyboard.
    Here’s the keybinds map for GW2 :
    ² : gun swap 1 2 3 4 : profession skills 5 : dodge
    QWERTY : weapons skills
    ASDFG : heal – utilities – elite
    SPACE : jump
    (of course, all ingame shortcuts are moved on others keys)

    The goal is to rationalize and simplify the gameplay, and I can insure you that it works, particularly in PVP. Just try it for a few hours, and as most of the players who did so, i think you’ll find it competitive.

    PS : forgive me for my bad english, as it is not my native language :(

  44. sirsinner says:

    how do you think this work for a ranger in gw 2

  45. Istrebitel says:

    Thanks for your keybinding setup. It was interesting to see a deviation from standard WASD/ESDF control scheme. Please answer my questions if you have time:

    1) Several times you say that binding strafe buttons to mouse thumb (like with Razer Naga) is a viable solution. I tried different MMO mice and my experience is that when i try to press a button with right hand thumb, my mouse precision decines. Meaning, its harder to move my mouse presicely when i’m not holding it with my thumb. I think this would be a problem is such often used keys as strafes are bound to mouse side buttons. Am i holding my mouse incorrectly?

    2) You say you do not bind forward/back in most MMOs, and in GW2 you bound forward but not back… I have to ask – do you play other games that utilise keyboard for movement, like FPSes? WASD/ESDF are movement keys for a reason – thats because your middle finger is longer than index/ring finger, so if you position those on your keyboard, they go exactly over WAD/ESF that is most often used movement keys (forward, left, right) while least used movement key – back – for that you need to curve your middle finger a bit to reach. Now, i do understand in MMO its very convinient to have “spam” ability on a finger separate from strafing (otherwise you always have to strafe in one direction to use your spam, like strafe to right if your spam is on 1 or strafe left if your spam is on, say, F key when using WASD). But do you re-learn for every game you play? Like, when playing FPS, you use ESDF for movement, and when playing SWTOR, you use only mouse for forward, WR for strafes and arrow down for backwards, and when playing Rift, you start using E for forward sometimes, and when playing GW2, you use D for “kind of” backward (backward dodge if pressed by itself)? Or you dont play FPS as well and your control scmene is always WR for strafes in MMO, and ED for forward/back if they’re needed in said mmo, and for some abilities otherwise? Or do you play FPS’es with WERD control scheme as well (means your hand is usually positioned in not the most comfortable way, most comfortable being middle finger on a higher key row than ring/index fingers).

    3) Have you thought about binding your weapon 1 to 3, 2 to 1, 3 to 2, 4 to 4, 5 to 5? This way, “spam” button is on 3, and everything else is where it should be, just shifted to the right for abilities 2 and 3. Is there a problem with such way of binding?

    4) Do you use TAB, or other key for targeting in MMOs? Or do you use auto-targeting (select nearest when using ability w/o target) combined with manually selecting target with mouse?

    5) Why have ~ weapon swap in GW2? If you hand is positioned on WERD for movement, isnt going for ~ too far of a stretch? Isnt Caps lock or Shift a way better candidate for that (especially since you’re not using shift as modifier key)

    6) Do you use abilities like Thief’s roll back heal or elementalist’s fiery roll back (forgot skill names) to roll forward by turning around before using it (just as Hunters in WoW use Disengage)? If yes, how do you do it without binding About Face key? I find that Guild Wars 2 character rotation works differently from other games, in WoW i could quickly turn around with L+R mouse held while jumping and press disengage and i’d fly backwards, in GW2 if i turn around with L+R mouse until is move in that direction my character doenst actually turn that way, and if i’m doing it mid jump it doesnt turn at all. I dont know how to explain better, but in GW2 i found out its impossible to reliably turn with mouse and then use ability that makes you move backwards – you character will often dodge backwards relative to where he was facing before you turned.

    • taugrim says:

      Istrebitel :

      Thanks for your keybinding setup. It was interesting to see a deviation from standard WASD/ESDF control scheme. Please answer my questions if you have time:

      I use the same strafe and forward keybinds as EDSF.

      Istrebitel :

      1) Several times you say that binding strafe buttons to mouse thumb (like with Razer Naga) is a viable solution. I tried different MMO mice and my experience is that when i try to press a button with right hand thumb, my mouse precision decines. Meaning, its harder to move my mouse presicely when i’m not holding it with my thumb. I think this would be a problem is such often used keys as strafes are bound to mouse side buttons. Am i holding my mouse incorrectly?

      I don’t think you’re holding your mouse incorrectly. If it’s not comfortable for you, consider another setup. E.g. you could bind left-click and right-click to your strafes, and then move your character turn and mouse turn to other mouse buttons.

      I can’t tell you what will be comfortable, so that’s something you’ll need to sort out.

      Istrebitel :

      2) You say you do not bind forward/back in most MMOs, and in GW2 you bound forward but not back… I have to ask – do you play other games that utilise keyboard for movement, like FPSes? WASD/ESDF are movement keys for a reason – thats because your middle finger is longer than index/ring finger\

      EDSF is a popular substitute for WSAD for a reason. I picked up EDSF about 5 years ago thanks to reading that tip from FPS players.

      WSAD doesn’t make any sense IMO, unless you truly have so many skills to bind that you need to make extensive use of modifiers (Shift/Ctrl/etc).

      Istrebitel :

      3) Have you thought about binding your weapon 1 to 3, 2 to 1, 3 to 2, 4 to 4, 5 to 5? This way, “spam” button is on 3, and everything else is where it should be, just shifted to the right for abilities 2 and 3. Is there a problem with such way of binding?

      No need for that, thankfully. Once you activate the “1” chain, it auto-fires.

      Istrebitel :

      4) Do you use TAB, or other key for targeting in MMOs? Or do you use auto-targeting (select nearest when using ability w/o target) combined with manually selecting target with mouse?

      Tab and selective left-click targeting.

      5) Why have ~ weapon swap in GW2? If you hand is positioned on WERD for movement, isnt going for ~ too far of a stretch?

      I’ve gotten used to reaching ~ with my pinky.

      You should bind it wherever it’s comfortable for you.

      • Istrebitel says:

        Thank you for your reply!
        I am using your scheme now (with some tweaks) and its a great improvement over what i used before!

        I have only one question remaining – you say “i’m using ESDF” – so, you use ESDF in FPS and other games that require character movement, while using WERD for MMO’s? Or you use WERD in other games too?

  46. Okema says:

    Hey!

    Thanks so much for your guides! So from what I understand you bound ‘E’ to moving forward to have a better aim with reticles, but still mainly use the mouse to move forward? Or are you now solely using ‘E’ for moving forward?

    Thanks!

    • taugrim says:

      Okema :

      Hey!

      Thanks so much for your guides! So from what I understand you bound ‘E’ to moving forward to have a better aim with reticles, but still mainly use the mouse to move forward? Or are you now solely using ‘E’ for moving forward?

      Thanks!

      Sometimes I use E for moving forward. A lot of the time I’m still using the mouse buttons, because it’s so fluid and comfortable.

  47. stephen says:

    Very helpful thank you. makes me think of keybindings in a whole new light. very well done.

  48. Sullivan says:

    I just wanted to say a quick thank-you for this guide! Being new to MMO’s, this drastically, in like a Godzilla sized way, improved my game! I ended up tweaking your setup several times until I came up with what works best for me (I prefer, being a touch typist, to keep my left hand on the home-row – being the F key typically has an indent on it, it’s nice to know where my hand is.)

    Also I strafe so frequently I put those on the ‘a’ and ‘f’ keys. My most frequently used attacks I put in the S, D, R, T, G and V keys. My main AOE ability on ‘B’. Heals on ‘H’, ‘N’ and sometimes ‘Y’ (no pun intended there!) CC’s in X and C. CC breaker in Z. Tab targets next enemy, ‘`’ key targets next friendly player. 1-7 get whatever other abilities are left over – though I try to keep them consistent type-wise between toons where possible (example, ‘2’ key I use force pull for my Shadow and Harpoon for my Vanguard).

    • taugrim says:

      Sullivan :

      I just wanted to say a quick thank-you for this guide! Being new to MMO’s, this drastically, in like a Godzilla sized way, improved my game! I ended up tweaking your setup several times until I came up with what works best for me (I prefer, being a touch typist, to keep my left hand on the home-row – being the F key typically has an indent on it, it’s nice to know where my hand is.)

      Also I strafe so frequently I put those on the ‘a’ and ‘f’ keys. My most frequently used attacks I put in the S, D, R, T, G and V keys. My main AOE ability on ‘B’. Heals on ‘H’, ‘N’ and sometimes ‘Y’ (no pun intended there!) CC’s in X and C. CC breaker in Z. Tab targets next enemy, ‘`’ key targets next friendly player. 1-7 get whatever other abilities are left over – though I try to keep them consistent type-wise between toons where possible (example, ’2′ key I use force pull for my Shadow and Harpoon for my Vanguard).

      Awesome to hear.

      I’m glad that you revised the keybinds to suit what is comfortable. That’s the most important point :)

  49. Kusanagi_2501 says:

    Taugrim could you place a link in your keybind guide for your SWTOR keybinding set up? I used it and loved it for my marauder and now that it’s F2P I am giving it another go. I still have my muscle memory from it, just not the actual memory of what the key binds were.

  50. Dakota Revolver says:

    Hello Tau,
    Mad props. I have been watching your videos for years, and I generally find them to be helpful, intelligent, and fun to watch (Played a MASH cleric for 2 years, LOVED it).
    I was wondering if you would be willing to make a diagram like the Rift and GW2 ones above, for SWTOR?
    I recently went back to the game, and in an effort to step up my game, I want to try your keybinding scheme, but the RIFT and GW2 ones don’t quite fit.
    Thank you in advance,
    Dakota Revolver

  51. anonymity says:

    hey love your guides but i was wondering how do you dodge roll back with this set up ?

  52. wanted to try out this keybindings guild wars 2, however i can’t figure how you have set new bindings to the mouse keyboards (expect mouse 3), is there a setting i have to change somewhere which will allow me to change the key bindings on the mouse?

    • taugrim says:

      Nicholas Lloyd :

      wanted to try out this keybindings guild wars 2, however i can’t figure how you have set new bindings to the mouse keyboards (expect mouse 3), is there a setting i have to change somewhere which will allow me to change the key bindings on the mouse?

      I don’t know whether you can change Mouse 1 (left click) or Mouse 2 (right click), but you can change Mouse 3 (middle mouse button for standard mouse) by simply depressing the middle button when setting the key for a particular action.

  53. Orange says:

    Currently dancing between GW2, Rift, and (as ever) WoW. I’m absolutely in love with the keybind templates you’ve thrown up here! Unfortunately, I think they won’t quite work out for me on my rogue. The class just has far too many must-use abilities, which is a huge problem with WoW in general, so I’ve got a ton of them on shift-mod macros which are very uncomfortable and far too sluggish to use effectively in a PvP setting!

    Really wishing Blizzard would take a look at things here and say “Hey, y’know, maybe we DON’T need a dozen abilities that all serve the SAME FUNCTION!”

    Wishful thinking. Anyway, thanks Taugrim, your guides have been a help right back to Prot Paladin PvP.

  54. Imraan3000 says:

    Hey Taugrim. I’m trying out your method of keybinding and I was wondering, do you use your pinky finger to tab target? Also, do you use your thumb to hit the keys right above the spacebar? Thanks.

    • taugrim says:

      Imraan3000 :

      Hey Taugrim. I’m trying out your method of keybinding and I was wondering, do you use your pinky finger to tab target? Also, do you use your thumb to hit the keys right above the spacebar? Thanks.

      Yes for pinky to tab target.
      I only use my thumb for spacebar.

  55. Shaan says:

    Hiya taugrim,

    I’m a left handed SWTOR player. I use my mouse with my left hand; the direction keys for moving; the numpad + the 6 keys (home, insert, etc), and F10 -F12 for everything else.

    Any keybinding tips for us left handers ?

    • taugrim says:

      I’m a left handed SWTOR player. I use my mouse with my left hand; the direction keys for moving; the numpad + the 6 keys (home, insert, etc), and F10 -F12 for everything else.

      Any keybinding tips for us left handers ?

      I assume you have your mouse to the left of your keyboard.

      If I were left-handed, I’d try re-mapping keys around my right hand, probably just a row up from the natural typing position, UIOP. So for example:
      I = forward
      U/O = strafe
      K = dodge
      7890- = 1-5
      etc

  56. […] das Problem nicht mehr). Wegen einer brauchbaren Tastaturbelegung sollte man sich vielleicht mal Taugrim's Guide to Keybindung and Strafing anschauen und sich eine Inspiration holen. Ich spiele seit dem mit ESDF und habe die umliegenden […]

  57. […] Taugrim’s Guide to Keybinding and Strafing in MMORPGs […]

  58. H.C. Cramer says:

    For the record, before anyone spends 20 minutes reading this. This keybind set up has worked for me for literally every MMO that has came out within the past 13 years. It might need a few minor tweaks here or there to fit each specific game’s playstyle, but the core fundamentals are always the same. Also, it can work for Lefties as well, you just have to reverse the keys. (Use ‘J’ instead of ‘F’ etc, you’ll understand if you read below.) I hope it helps someone.

    Yea I realize this post is a bit old, but I saw it linked on your MDPS Esper build post. I totally agree with what you’re saying about the terrible thought designers put into keyboard controls. Over the past 14 years of MMO experience I have developed a personal style of keybinds that I can port to pretty much any game. It’s a tad bit more elaborate, but normal computer input hardware would work perfectly fine.

    So basically, I always mouse move. Being a hardcore WoW Raider for so many years gave a bad stigma to keyboard turning in general. (No one cared in Everquest. haha).But back on topic; I run 22 keybinds just off my left hand alone (not counting about 8 shift-modifiers). Basically, any key you would type with your left hand is bound to an ability. FDSATCZXVEG~M4. Also included are 4 keybinds on my mouse, two of which double as a shift modified bind.

    So, for instance and demonstration I’ll use a Ret Paladin since that’s my shizznit, F D S A are going to be my main spam abilities. F = Crusader’s Strike, D = Judgement, S = Templar’s Verdict, A = Exorcism. Using FDSA for those abiltiies is key because your index finger naturally sits at the F key when typing.

    Furthermore, T C Z X are other quick keys near the home position of your resting hand on the keyboard. T = Fist/Hammer of Justice, C = Word of Glory, Z = Divine Storm, X = Flash of Light. Those 4 binds, no matter what character or game are used for utility. T is almost always a stun of some sort for me, C can be another stun or a gap closer (like a Warrior’s Charge, but sadly Paladins have none), Z is ALWAYS an AoE spell, be it an AoE dmg spell or AoE Heal, and X is ALWAYS a self heal.

    After that, V = an Interrupt. ALWAYS an interrupt. I have trained myself for so many years to hit V to interrupt an ability that I find myself doing it even when I don’t actually even have one to use. E is always a short term buff, Inquisition for me, but Rogue’s Slice n Dice goes there, etc. And G is ALWAYS an execute or a proc ability. Since G is directly beside F and 9/10 you want to hit your instant procs asap it makes the most logical sense to put it as close as possible to your #1 spam ability keybound to F. And the 12th and final bind on the usual gaming standard of 12 button bars is my thumb button on my mouse. Most mice have that button (I believe it usually goes back a page if you’re browsing the internet), but it’s bound to a fast ability that you might need in a hurry. For me as a Paladin it’s Hand of Freedom, but when I play Rogue style classes then its always Stealth or Blink for a Mage, etc.

    Finally, keys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are usually bound to cooldowns. 3, 4 and 5 specifically are bound to the most important ones because its easier to reach and hit 4 and 5 with my middle finger to activate Avenging Wrath and Guardian of Ancient Kings than it would be to reach my pinky up to one of the other 2 numbers while maintaining maximum uptime on my spam abilities bound to FDSA. The ~ key is used for a short defensive cooldown such as Divine Protection, and Y, H, B, are used for long defensive cooldowns such as Bubble and Lay on Hands. Which is best because its a lot harder to fat finger those keys. The other 3 remaining ability bar slots are interchangable depending on encounter, but they’re activated by using Shift-modified mouse buttons I spoke of earlier.

    tl;dr — Now, for the information actually relevant to MMO Strafing. Due to my left hand resting on the FDSA keys, I use Q and E as strafe left and right respectively. If I was to move my pinky and ring fingers up to Q and E I still have access to my main spam damage abilities that are tied to F and D. All the while I’m mouse steering with my right hand that never leaves my mouse, since every ability that I would need to do DPS, Heal, Tank or whatever is done with my left hand on the keyboard.

    As far as this pertains to Wildstar, since it’s not necessary to need 36 keybinds (counting all my shit macros) to play, I play exactly the same, Q and E strafe right and left, but I added that the E key moves backwards and the R key moves forward. I don’t use them to actually steer my character, but I double tap them for my Dash rolls.

    So in conclusion. (I’m sure you’re thinking ”Thank god!”), if you mouse steer and strafe with two buttons you’re comfortable with, try to add 2 more buttons near by to allow yourself to dash in any direction as needed.

    —-As a side note, I swear to god I’m not a nerd or anything, I just had nothing better to do for 30mins while Wildstar was patching. :)

    • For the record, before anyone spends 20 minutes reading this. This keybind set up has worked for me for literally every MMO that has came out within the past 13 years. It might need a few minor tweaks here or there to fit each specific game’s playstyle, but the core fundamentals are always the same.

      Over the past 14 years of MMO experience I have developed a personal style of keybinds that I can port to pretty much any game.

      Thanks for the advocacy, and you get it.

      People sometimes dismiss new things like this because it’s not what they’re using, without really thinking about through the why’s and the implications.

      —-As a side note, I swear to god I’m not a nerd or anything, I just had nothing better to do for 30mins while Wildstar was patching. :)

      LOL :)

      We’re all gaming geeks here, this is safe territory.

      • H.C. Cramer says:

        I misspoke, I use Q and W to strafe left/right always, but in WIldstar E moves backwards and R moves forward for dashing purposes. A minor oversight in the most important section of my post, due to lack of sleep I believe. Haha. But the end result is still the same. I’d edit my post but I don’t see an option too.

        We’re all gaming geeks here, this is safe territory.

        I’m actually proud of being a gaming geek lol. I’ve met more diverse, interesting and intelligent people over the years than I possibly ever could have doing anything else.

  59. I do believe all of the ideas you’ve introduced for your post.
    They are very convincing and can definitely work.
    Still, the posts are very brief for starters. May
    just you please extend them a bit from subsequent time?

    Thank you for the post.

  60. […] throwing your hands down.  I then looked at WERD, which I found interesting after reviewing This Article and finally I started from scratch – ASDF and modified it into a movement pattern by shifting a […]

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