What is a Rated Match and what is a Skirmish?
Queuing up for a Rated Match will impact your team and personal ratings while a Skirmish will not. Think of Skirmishes as warm-ups for the real thing. You can queue for a Skirmish on your own and will be grouped with random players from your Battlegroup. Skirmishes are good for primarily scoping out maps if you queue up on your own. Otherwise, you should queue with your teammates to get a better feel of your class synergy. Once you feel confident enough to engage in a real match, you and your teammates should group up as a party or raid and have the leader talk to an Arena Promoter. Simply choose Rated Match [2v2, 3v3, and 5v5], select Join As Group, and put your game faces on!
Can I add or remove team members?
Yes. If you are the Team Captain, you can add more members up to a maximum of twice the size of your team. For example, you can have up to four characters in a 2v2, six in a 3v3, and ten in a 5v5. Similar to a guild charter, you only need unique player accounts to sign the charter, but the team itself can be comprised of characters belonging to one account. This means, for instance, that two players can form a 2v2 team and have their alts as the other two members of the team. If you are the Team Captain, you can invite more members by typing '/teaminvite [2v2, 3v3, 5v5] [player]' while you can remove players from a team by right-clicking their name in the Arena interface and selecting the Remove option.
How do I leave my team?
If you are the team leader, you must first pass leadership to another teammate who is online at the time. You can do this through the Arena interface by selecting a teammate, right-clicking her name, and selecting the Promote to Team Captain option. Another, simpler way would be to type '/teamcaptain [2v2, 3v3, 5v5] [player]'. Once this is done, you can then type '/teamquit [2v2, 3v3, 5v5]' to leave the team. You can also opt to disband a team by typing '/teamdisband [2v2, 3v3, 5v5]' which will dissolve the team, disenfranchising current team members.
What are ratings?
Team and personal ratings are measurements by which the Arena system gauges you and your team's success throughout the season. Teams and players start at ratings of 1500, going higher or lower depending on your success. In Season 6, teams will start from 0 instead of 1500. The rating system used by World of Warcraft Arenas used to be based on the ELO Rating system used by competitive chess. It's slightly different now and a bit harder to explain... but the gist is that if you win more, you climb higher in the ratings.
The point gain or loss is dependent on the ratings of the teams such that a higher rated team will receive less points for winning against a lower rated team. Conversely, a lower rated team winning against a higher rated team stands to gain more points. The maximum ratings a team can receive is 32 and happens very rarely, as the Arena matching system tries to keep team ratings as close to each other as possible. A more detailed explanation with more math than dummies can handle can be found on wowwiki.
What are personal ratings?
A personal rating is similar to a team rating but only changes when you participate in an Arena match yourself. If all your teammates participate in all your matches, your personal rating will be virtually identical to your team rating. However, when one or more of your members don't play in a match, things become a little more complicated. If, for example, you sit out games and your team loses, you don't lose personal ratings while your team rating drops. On the other hand, the reverse is also true. If you sit out games that your team wins, your team rating will climb while yours will remain the same. Because the Arena matching system matches personal ratings as well as team ratings, the point gains and losses that team members receive from opponents can become different over time.
Leaving or joining a team will reset your personal rating for those teams to 1500. It is important to note that a player's personal ratings must be close to his or her team's ratings in order to optimize Arena point gain. The change was made to ensure that players earned their Arena points through participation and actual contribution to matches played. This means that players whose personal ratings are 150 points below their team's ratings will earn Arena points according to their personal ratings. Over time, the more matches a player participates in, the closer the team and arena ratings become.
What are Arena points and how do I get them?
Arena points are currency for Arena PvP gear, similar to Honor points for other PvP items. A team is required to play a minimum of ten games a week in order to qualify for Arena point gain, awarded every Tuesday morning on US servers (Tuesday night for Oceanic realms and Wednesday morning for EU realms). A player is required to play at least 30% of his or her team's matches in order to qualify for Arena points.
The higher your team's ratings, the higher the points you will receive during the weekly payout. The amount of points players can receive is also dependent on the size of the team. Points gained from a 2v2 team is worth about 76% of the points that a similarly-rated 5v5 team would get, while a 3v3 team will get 88%. Players can participate in all three Arena brackets but will only gain points from the team and rating that would give the highest payout.
More Arena FAQ goodness to be concluded another Blood Sport column! If you have any questions about Arenas, specially WoW Rookie-type ones, comment below and we'll see if our Magic 8-Ball can help ya.