Now, I've put that video up there because I think it's the culmination of one of the most exciting Arena finals I've ever watched. Bear in mind if you're watching it on speakers that the commentators get pretty excitable at various points, and there are a couple of "cr*ps" in there.
The Arena is, in my opinion, the biggest rush in the entire game. Nothing in PvE can compare. And these guys in this video are the best of the best -- quite literally, in fact. That's what this match was, the final match of the BlizzCon Arena Grand Finals of 2011. If you enjoyed watching it, I heartily encourage you to watch the rest of it.
If you're a pure PvE player, you may possibly have watched that and thought "Holy moly, what on earth just happened?" I wouldn't blame you. It's fast-paced, reactionary, and confusing as all hell when you get started. So that's why I'm writing this post -- to help you get started.
So what's Rule 1? Resilience. Resilience, resilience, resilience. We touch on this in our initial PvE to PvP guide, but for Arena, I can't express strongly enough how important it is.
Resilience was altered somewhat in patch 4.1, when it shifted from scaling return to linear return. What does that mean? Well, basically, once you pass a certain resilience threshold, each point of resilience will award you marginally less than your very first point of resilience did. This however does nothing to remove the importance of resilience whatsoever. Just thought I'd mention it!
If you hover your cursor over the resilience number in your character screen, you will be able to see the percentage damage reduction that your current resilience provides. That damage reduction does nothing whatsoever against NPCs. It only works against other players, so it's not going to help you in your raids. Armor does have some impact in Arena -- a cloth wearer is going to be a touch more squishy than a plate wearer -- but it's not as important as you think.
Let's talk numbers
So how much resilience do you need for Arena? People ask this fairly regularly. My advice is always to shoot for a number around the 4,000 mark. A couple of friends in my guild dinged 85 on a mage and a rogue recently, a great 2v2 pairing, and went into the Arena against advice with a paltry 1,800 resilience. Quite apart from the ill-advisedness of heading into the Arena with brand new characters that you might not have completely wrapped your head around, 1,800 resilience is far too little. Even the Snutzs of this world would struggle with 1,800 resilience.
Of course, I should add that I'm talking about max-level Arena here, not level 70 Arena, where you probably couldn't get 1,800 resilience for love or money.
How on earth do you get to 4,000 resilience? Well, step one, head to the Auction House. The most recent crafted set, called Vicious armor (such as Vicious Pyrium Breastplate), is item level 377. It's Pyrium or Ornate Pyrium for plate wearers, Charscale or Dragonscale for mail wearers, Wyrmhide or Leather for leather wearers and Embersilk or Fireweave for cloth wearers. (Thanks Molly)
If you are wealthy enough to afford that entire set, that'll net you a respectable 2,291 resilience, plus another 400 for the set bonus! Some 2,691 resilience is really not bad for a start. But that assumes that your set is even available in its entirety in your server's Auction House, including the rings, neck and relic -- and in my experience, that's unlikely. Additionally, that's still not really enough, so you'll need to grind some honor via Battlegrounds or justice conversion. As I mentioned in a previous column, you really need a trinket that frees you from CC (unless you're a human); that should be your first honor purchase. And as I've said before (but bears repeating), don't replace PvP items with better PvP items until you're not wearing PvE gear. There are exceptions to this, like Cunning of the Cruel, but it's a good general rule. Once you start getting toward the conquest threshold (7,800) for buying weapons, save up and get one.
Battleground wins now also grant conquest points -- but my goodness, grinding your way to the cap each week via Battlegrounds would be a soul-destroying experience. So once you've about 3,500 resilience, I'd leap cheerfully into the Arena.
I'm, like, so resilient right now. What next?
Well, find yourself some friends to go into the Arena with! You can advertise yourself in trade, but if you're new to the Arena, I'd really, really recommend starting off with people you know well and get along with. Do some duels to get used to what it's like to be under attack, get used to working out what to use and when, how to survive, how to self-heal.
Why? Well, your first Arenas are likely going to be immensely frustrating. Unless you're a genius in the making, by starting fresh with an MMR of 1,500, you're going to be losing some matches. Even if you know your class really well for PvE and your cohorts are very experienced PvPers, this is a totally different ball game, and it's very difficult to carry someone in Arena, particularly in 2v2 and 3v3.
3 tips for improving your initial arenas
1. Positioning Think about where you're fighting and what that means for your comp and your enemies. If you're a healer, you only need to be in line of sight of your teammates to heal them, not in line of sight of the enemy. Hide behind pillars, hide behind boxes, hide on different levels. But, if you're the one under fire, bear in mind that if you're playing a comp with peels -- and by peels, I mean CC used to "peel" an enemy off you, allowing you to heal or escape -- they need the people chasing you to be in line of sight of them to get the baddies off you.
If you're a melee player, you need to be in melee range of the enemy. There I go again, stating the obvious! But that has ramifications for your healers -- if you're way over the other side of the Arena out of range of your healer, they're either going to have to not heal you or run into the open, where they're very susceptible to CC. Try to draw the enemy to positions that are advantageous for you, rather than allowing yourself to be drawn.
Casters, you're kind of a halfway house. If you're not being tunneled and are allowed to cast freely, you can be in the open and pew-pew away. However, if you're being focused or repeatedly CCed, think about how you can still put out damage while doing something to avoid taking too much of it yourself. Pillars are still your friends; warlocks have teleports, mages have endless CC, and moonkin have typhoon. Think about what you have that is instant-cast damage, what you have that slows, and what you have that keeps them within zapping range but away from you.
2. Communication Talk to each other. Get on Skype. I still prefer it over Vent or similar tools, although Mumble seems it might be a viable option with the lack of lag. Tell each other what you're doing. This is hugely important in comps with a lot of CC. If you can effectively chain-CC the opposition's healer, you could well burn down a squishy DPS before that healer can get a single cast off. If you go searching for videos of high-level PvP players, you'll notice that there's a near-constant dialogue.
Tell your teammates if you're CCed. Tell them if you're slowed. Tell them which target you're on. Tell them if a target is low, and tell them if you think a switch to that target is a good idea. Tell them if you're using an Ice Block, a bubble, a teleport, a trinket. Tell them if you're jumping down a level or up a level. Tell them if you desperately need that rogue not to be attacking you anymore because you have absolutely no cooldowns left and you're Garrotted. Tell them if you have a cooldown available; tell them if they ask for one and you don't have it available.
3. Persistence I know, it's really hard. PvP isn't like PvE -- you can't go back and face the same comp over and over again and try different tactics to see what works and what doesn't. Having said that, if you have several PvPing friends, you might have enough for a wargame or two, and these are really fantastic ways to practice, as are duels.
Always try to think of what you could have done better. Try not to blame your teammates for losses, and try not to blame it on the other comp being somehow unbeatable. As your MMR adjusts to your skill, it'll get better, but just keep at it. Try your best to reach the conquest cap every week. Practice, practice, practice, and stick with your partners unless it all goes horribly wrong.
Do you want to capture flags, attack towers, invade cities, and dominate the Arena for your faction? Do you dream of riding your War Bear with pride? We'll steer you to victory with the secrets of PvP, including proven addons and keybindings that win!