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Blood Sport: Tips and Tricks

Amanda Dean

PvP in its purest form is a beautiful thing. Amanda Dean, always obsessed with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat brings you news you can use in the Arena. When last seen, former Blood Sport columnist V'Ming Chew had defeated a pack of angry Gnome Warlocks and had decided to take up retirement in a lovely chateau overlooking the Ring of Trials in Nagrand.

So thanks to the new point requirements for Battleground gear in Arena Season Four, many people who are not as familiar with the arena will be forced to queue up. When I first started playing arenas, I didn't see it as tremendously different from battlegrounds. After several hard-learned lessons I found that I had to be much more flexible. I've also picked up a few tricks along the way.

You have to count on all of your opponents using every tool available. If you're not already doing these things, give some of them a shot.

1. Make the most of your prep time- Jump into the arena as soon as the queue pops. You'll have the opportunity to buff up your party and discuss any changes to strategy. Of course there are a couple of tricks to make the most of this time.

  • Warlocks have a lot to do during this time. In addition to their normal buffs, you can give your party a Fire Sheild by summoning your Imp and then replacing it with you arena pet.
  • Cast as many buffs as you can at this time. While noone is going to drown in the arenas, go ahead and cast Underwater Breathing buffs. By adding these unnecessary spells you decrease the chances that your useful buffs will be Purged, Stolen, or Dispelled.
  • Resto Shamans (Shamen?) can boost their Earth Shield by dropping a Wrath of Air Totem and healing trinket before casing the spell. If you get started right away, the cooldown on your trinket should be up before you get started. You can even swap out your trinkets wfor maximum performance.
  • Warriors can occasionally split their shouts. In the Ruins of Lorderan arena Healers can go to one corner and DPSers can go to the kitty corner. The Warrior can cast Commanding Shout on the Healers and then run to the opposite side and cast Battle Shout on the DPSers.

I'm sure there are more non-exploitative tricks to prepping for the arena. Feel free to share.

2. You rarely have the opportunity to drink, but you never know when you might- Casters should come prepared with Star's Tears to every fight. Mages should take time to summon food and drink. Along with Bandages these are the only consumables allowed in the arenas. (Oh, and even healers should train first aid)

3. Learn to button mash - Here in World of Warcraft we spend a lot of time dividing ourselves. Horde vs Alliance, Hardcore vs Casual, PvE vs PvP, and Clickers vs Pressers. While clicking is viable in many situations, most of us can respond faster by using hotkeys. If you've been clicking, go ahead and give hotkeys a try, it can be uncomfortable at first, but you will cut your reaction time down when you don't have to mouse over your spells. Make the most of your keyboard real estate. Setting up your hotkeys is a matter of preference. I use 1-5, q-t, a-d, and shift a-d. That way I have minimal hand movements. Then again, I have small hands.

4. Have the right tools- Blizzard has made an effort to keep WoW manageable by average computers. There are a few tools you can use to boost your performance on any computer.

  • First and foremost, and this probably goes without saying, everyone must be on a chat program. Ventrilo and Teamspeak are great, in-game chat is bearable, and in a pinch Skype will do. While you can run arenas without these communication really helps to focus fire and strategize. Everyone should have a microphone. If you're serious about arenas, take a look at gaming headsets.
  • Your peripherals are hardly peripheral. A great mouse is an excellent investment. I recently picked up a 2000 dpi 9-button mouse and it has vastly improved my game. As a Resto Shaman I've assigned my healing waves to thumb buttons and the three directions of my scroll wheel to shocks. This freed up some of my hotkeys for Totems and other necessary, but less common spells. (My only regret is that the mouse does not match my bubble-gum pink computer case. C'est la vie.)
  • You may also consider a gaming keyboard or a separate keypad. Thus far I haven't tried a separate gaming keypad, but a friend of mine has one that I've been drooling over. While you can run WoW on your standard PC or Mac, you may find the gaming experience with precision peripherals more enjoyable. The more comfortable you are with your tools the better.

5. That includes AddOns- V'Ming Chew created a previous Blood Sport post with a list of essential addons for PvP. I have to admit, I have largely been leery of addons due to Blizzard's ominous warnings about keyloggers and such. Well, I got keylogged without addons, so what the heck! I now find Proximo to be the greatest thing since the Battlemaster's Trinket. It's another great tool for keeping your team on the same page (or at least the same target). Check around for the best mods for your class.

If Blizzard says addons are not cheating, then use them to your advantage. Acceptable mods have no real-time communication and do not require additional programs running along with WoW.Once you get used to having addons, it can be difficult to function without them. It will be interesting to see what happens in the final, live rounds of the arena tournament when addons are outlawed.

6. Be the master of Macro- The fewer keystokes you can get away with in the arena, the sooner you can move on to defeating your opponents. Macros simplify complex maneuvers in the arena. My Macros focus on healing abilities. Since Nature's Swiftness does not initiate a global cooldown, I hit a single key to activate that ability along with a Healing Wave on my Shaman. When I have to switch to emergency heals on my Ret Pally, I press a button that equips my shield, healing mace, and Libram then begins to cast a Flash of Light.

My favorite macro to date is the Spell Reflection macro that my boyfriend uses on his Warrior to bounce spells back at casters:

#showtooltip spell reflection
/cast battle stance
/equip "shield"
/equip "one handed weapon"
/cast spell reflection

It is a beautiful thing. Take a look around and see what other folks in your class are macroing.

7. Focus Focus Focus- Ok, so you should be paying attention to everything in the arena. You need to know what's happening on every side of you and what every single player is doing at any given time. But in this case I mean set a focus hot key. This function, accessible through the "Key Bindings" allows you to select a target that you can easily come back to. For example, if the plan is to destroy a healer while CCing a DPS character, set your focus on the CC target. When CC ends use the "target focus" hotkey to jump back on the DPSer.

Just remember to have fun and give it your all. We'd love to hear your tips.

Do you live to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women or just want to learn more about Arena play? Blood Sport is the column for you. Get the scoop on season four and learn how to improve your game.

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