WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?
Drwhy: For the past two seasons, I have been playing with my partner Nostalgia, a Blood Elf Rogue, in both 2s and 3s. It wasn't until just recently that we began working on getting gladiator in the 2s bracket this season, having taken a break from Arena at the beginning of this season.
Discipline Priest / Shadowstep Rogue is arguably one of the compositions that are played less and less as the seasons have gone by. This is because of many RNG issues as well as the amount of Druid teams. These factors require those who still do play this comp to play much better than before.
Our general plan against any composition is to get a long CC chain on the healer at some point in order to go for a kill. This could consist of a sequence such as Fear then Sap (or if they trinket Blind then Sap, followed by Mind Control and then Fear.
Our biggest challenge is pulling off these long CC chains against better teams, as well as using all of our different strategies for all the comps we face. There are some comps, that when played correctly, are very difficult for Priest/Rogue to beat. However, with practice and figuring out some strategies, you can up your chances significantly.
We've tried every spec possible for 2s and 3s, and for me as the priest, Disc is the way to go. Nostalgia has been able to play Mutilate and Shadowstep properly (mostly because of the amount of gear he has) and it changes our play style. I can play offensive with Shadowstep or play defensive dispels when he's Mutilate because of the pressure he puts on with daggers.
WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?
Drwhy: After getting our buffs in, we usually try and rush the first pillar we see so I have room to work with, including the Lordaeron tomb. Line of Sight is a huge key in winning Arena matches, and having the possibility of using it before your enemy can makes matches much easier.
Depending on who we play against, we usually go for a Sap and pressure on something. I have the talent Holy Nova in order to help me find Rogues and avoid getting Sapped. Nostalgia pre-Sprints and Vanishes in order to get the opener and not get sapped as well.
For most teams with a Druid, we Sap whatever we can find and then put pressure on the DPS until the druid pops out. Against Warlock teams, we sap the warlock and Nostalgia gets on the pet while I stay mounted ready to Fear the druid. Different comps require different strats, but they all involve communication.
WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?
Drwhy: After playing on the tournament realm, I have completely scratched all mods I had played with. At the moment, I play modless. My partner however, has more mods then I even probably care to know about. The one he uses the most is Afflicted, which lets you know when everybody's abilities are ready to be used again.
WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)
Well, like I mentioned before, we have pre-set strategies for all teams that we start off with, and then work our way around individual teams who might have a weakness other than what our strategy calls for. A lot of the time, however, I end up tanking one guy, while Nostalgia is mobile and goes back and forth putting pressure on the other team.
Not to give out all our strategies, but for example, against Warrior / Shamans, we split them up and I DPS the warrior while he gets on the shaman. If they try and kill me, they both end up getting low and we make a quick burst switch and finish one of them off. If they get on Nostalgia, I just bubble/Renew/Pain Suppression him and offensively dispel Earth Shields while putting in some DPS on the warrior. Our goal, again, is to get them both low on resources.
This isn't by any means the only strategy. I've seen much better priests play differently but it's the one that works for us. That's the important thing with arena ... use what works for YOU, not a general strategy.
WoW Insdier: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?"
Drwhy: We have two approaches to this. We usually play right after our college classes during the mid-late afternoon, before when Nostalgia has to raid and then we play again afterwards.
We have found that it's a gamble to play before Nostalgia's raids because most of the time in the higher 2100+ brackets, you end up playing teams that are only worth 5-8 points. That means you can lose up to 22 to 25 points (since it's out of 30). To counter that issue, some of the comps you play tend to be less of "counters," so to speak, to our team. That lets us win more than lose.
At night time, which is our preferred playing time, after Nostalgia's raid, we get the most competition and fastest queues and that's when we try and push our team rating up. We usually only play during the day if we happen to queue and there's a team we can easily farm that's giving us 12 to 10 points per win. Then we go on doing our dailies or whatever else we're doing.
WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s)
In the first couple brackets, 1500s and 1600s, it's not too crucial to have good communication in order to win. Most of the teams you see are people in PvE gear or PvE specs, and often a general strategy will do to take them out.
As you go up in rankings, you find more and more Druid teams and better players. (At least, in my BG and BG9 when I played there.) This, of course, requires more communication and teamwork in order to come out on top. As much as I hate to say it, PvE gear can play a role in arenas, which needs to be fixed. The higher you go, the more people you find with a mix of Tier 6 bonuses and Season 4.
My biggest suggestion to new Arena players is that you need to work out the kinks early and adjust them as you go. Just because a strategy worked against a 1700 Warrior / Druid team doesn't mean it will work against one that is 2200+.
WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)
Drwhy: Often times, the biggest sign that we need to change strategy is if the opposing healer can drink. That means there is not enough pressure being put on and we need to change something quick.
Another example of a strategy change is when a player is putting too much pressure on me and I'm wasting too much mana tanking (such as a heavily geared rogue). We proceed to adjust around that. And, once again, different teams have different weaknesses so it's important to be able to adapt midmatch.
One thing we do, however, is spend time afterwards talking about what went wrong and how we can fix it.
WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?
Drwhy: A long CC chain is important to get a killing blow, but not necessary. We actually find ourselves dispelling Nature Swiftness, Fel Domination, and similar self-buffs a lot because of our ability to predict the other team's moves, and issue CC at the proper moment. It makes matches so much easier.
I'd say we have about 1 or 2 strategies per comp. Some are as basic as: you DPS this, and I will Mana Burn or Heal. Some strategies can be more complex. For example: after every Kidney Shot, Fear the rogue, and switch to the druid then Shadowstep back.
WoW Insider: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?
Drwhy: There are only two abilities that I click, and that's from having a bad habit. The first one is my Rank 1Holy Nova and the other is my Water so I can drink mid Arena matches.
The rest of my keys are all bound, which includes the numbers 1-6, everything around WASD such as: Q,E,R,Z,X,C,V, and then all the SHIFT versions of the above keys. Finally, I've bound CTRL 1-5 as well.
I have tried binding more keys to more buttons. But I found myself rarely using them, so I stick with what I knew worked for me. A lot of players will find huge improvement once they get adapted from clicking to binding, because of the quickness of the actions your character performs. Remember, every global cooldown counts.
WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?
Drwhy: Getting better as a player, I have had the chance to play against top players in the Tournament Realm, Battlegroup 9 and on my own Battlegroup. I hope to one day be able to compete at higher level than what I am right now, because I have always been a competitive player, and I think WoW Arena has a future. It's something I'd like to explore. I've done well playing with some great players throughout the last couple seasons, and I have had the chance to talk to many of the top players on mIRC as well as the different servers.
When I say get better, I'm talking about more mana conservation, better positioning, quicker reaction time, and better, more positive communication with my teammates.
WoW Insider: What are you looking forward to in Wrath, for your class? What are you kind of dreading?
Drwhy: Honestly, I'm looking forward to playing my class still, but I will definitely be looking into trying it out as a Shadow Priest. That spec seems very viable when the new expansion comes out.
However, the comp that I prefer to run even to this day is Rogue / Mage / Priest in 3s, and they are getting heavily buffed again in the expansion. That's making them, in my opinion, the number one comp once more to run in 3s.
However, only time will tell. I will probably also look into playing an alt of some sort. I have numerous other 70s. But I'd have to say I'll probably jump on the DK bandwagon and try it out at end-game and see how I like it.
I'll tell you what I am dreading. The changes to racial abilities seem like a good move in order to balance Arena, but some of them are just ridiculous. I still think that Blizzard should have removed racials, letting you "spec" into two of them through a system of tiers. Tier One racial abilities could include things like Chastise, Devouring Plague, and passive abilities. Tier Two would include the bigger ones like Will of the Forsaken, Perception, , Stoneform, Escape Artist, etc.
WoW Insider: Season 4 ends in about ten days. What are your thoughts about that? Do you think the short season makes a difference in the final rankings?
Drwhy: I'm actually glad that Season 4 ends so soon. I think it was a smart move on Blizzard's part to give some players a last chance to compete with the current gear and class skills that t Burning Crusades has to offer.
I know, for example, for me and Nostalgia, we weren't able to get Gladiator because our Mage quit two weeks before the last season ended. We missed it by 10 points since we didn't bother playing anymore. So, to us, this is one last chance to get what we should have last season.
On the other hand, as the seasons have gone by, it's gotten less competitive and "easier" to get Gladiator. In my battlegroup, all it takes this season to get Gladiator is 2130 in 2s, based on the Arena Junkies prediction. Which is sad, because we are going to have people hitting Gladiator without shoulders.
The most competitive season was Season 2, and that's what is used in tournaments like the MLG. I hope to see more seasons like that come WotLK. As far as impacting the ratings, all it does is make it easier for people to achieve their goals, since a lot of the top players have stopped doing the Arena until WotLK or are too busy with tournaments. Not to mention, you've had enough time to gear up in full Season 4 even if you didn't play every week. I think this short season is fine.