- Action The enemy team heads directly for you, leaving you no time to talk strategy before engaging combat.
- Bad reaction Panic.
- Good reaction Punish their positioning and tempo loss.
Panic is the norm when it comes to new enemy strategy. Very rarely, if ever, do people sit back and think, "Well, this is a completely new challenge for me to face; let's try to think about this rationally to see how to best handle this situation."
Don't feel bad if you've panicked before; everyone has. Even the best players have had moments when they are overwhelmed
by an enemy strategy. When you get overwhelmed, the game speeds up incredibly. You don't realize what's going on, everything turns into a blur and figuring out how the enemy defeated you is very hard to do.
When I first started arena, I was like everyone else. We faced teams that were top 10 on the battlegroup, and they cut through us like a knife through hot butter. They seemingly killed our entire team in 15 seconds. It wasn't 15 seconds, but it seemed like
15 seconds. I had no idea how they did it; I just saw my healer's health go from 100 percent to 0 percent in the matter of a few globals. I was dumbfounded.
The relative value of shock value
Teams that rush forfeit positioning to attempt a quick victory based on shock value. Sometimes teams can do very well without initial positioning advantages. These teams have usually played together for quite some time and are comfortable working from a deficit early on to make games go quicker. However, chances are you're not facing these kinds of top-level-synergy teams. You're probably going up against a team that got demolished by being rushed, so they figured they would try it out. This is precisely the type of team you can punish via advantageous positioning early on.
If you have a shaman on your team, quickly place totems in an area that will be accessible to your team but distant from the enemy team. Chances are, the enemy shaman will just drop his totems in the center of the arena, which will give your team a distinct advantage.
If you have a druid on your team, try opening with a Cyclone on an enemy DPSer. This will force the opposing team to play defensively when they planned on playing offensively. This will give your team the shock value element. Similarly, try to pump as much damage as you can into the nearest target. It doesn't have to be the best target on the team -- they're rushing, so they have a very offensive mindset. Even if it's a "bad class" for you to target, it might turn out to be very good, because he's not planning on being attacked.
Adapt or die
Lure enemies behind pillars where your team can tear into them. Make sure your team isn't hiding behind different pillars; that's what the enemy wants you to do. You should concentrate on going on the offensive instead of curling into a defensive ball -- it will throw their offensive game plan off and they will most likely have to adapt a new strategy quickly or die.
- Action Your healer is out of line of- ight (LOS).
- Bad reaction Ignore it.
- Good reaction Move towards the center of the arena.
Most deaths (and subsequently, losses) don't revolve around incredible crowd control rotations and spell interrupts from the enemy team. They come from lack of positioning detail and misunderstandings of role (i.e., momentum shift).
I'd say as many as 75 percent of kills in arena happen simply because teammates separate from each other and either move out of range or out of line of sight for heals. If you've played arena, you've experienced this. If you play with any kind of voice communication, you can hear the sigh of disapproval eerily clearly.
I'm out of LOS of you. Go around the other side of the pillar. No, the other side. I need to heal you, you're taking a lot of damage.
Ignoring LOS is a very poor strategy, even if it seems like you're in a very advantageous position. As I mentioned recently, separating yourself from your healer to kill the opponent is often a trap. Warriors fall into these traps easily when they Charge or Intercept opponents who are just about to get out of LOS. Then they follow them around the pillar and get spell cleaved to death.
Go center, young man
Move toward the center.
The near-universal strategy among high-rated players is to move to the center when you get low on health (both for healers and DPS). There are exceptions to the rule, for sure, but the general rule is a great starting point.
Moving toward the center allows your healer to know exactly where you are going at all points whenever you get low on health. Every arena has a center, and there's only one center. When you're on one side of the boxes in Dalaran Sewers and he's on the other, trying to communicate which direction you want to go is time-consuming and often confusing.
Heading to the center alleviates these communication issues. Walking into enemy fire is actually less of an issue than you would normally think -- usually, the entire enemy team can already switch to you if they need to as you're in an unadvantageous position to start with (probably the reason you need heals).
Creating that central focal point allows your team to stop enemy DPS with crowd control or interrupts far more easily than trying to run around pillars. Your healer can also set up shop at a pillar away from the action for drinking and overall better positioning. Don't take my word for it -- try it for yourself!
Blood Sport is moving to Tuesday!
We're shifting Blood Sport from Monday to Tuesday to better accommodate our editors (they make my life so much easier) and yours truly simultaneously. Don't worry, you'll still be able to get your weekly dose of pwning and pillaging -- and you might get to read it during server downtime!
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing
Donkey Kong? Read Blood Sport for pointers on arena play. Don't miss our interviews with successful arena PvPers, and see The Art of War(craft) for the inside line on battlegrounds and world PvP.