Blood Sport: Beginner's guide to arena, part III

C. Christian Moore
C. Moore|12.21.09

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Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all-things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in's arena column.

Listening Music: Modeselektor's Tetrispack. Allison Robert offered a challenge to our most beloved columnist last week. Ms. Roberts has chosen a clever and palatable piece with Richard Shindell's On-A-Sea-Of-Fleur-De-Lis. And now we come to my retaliation. My wife recommended our musical selection today -- it just happened to be on the absolute opposite end of the spectrum. How fitting. We love this song, albeit mostly for the intro. Upon your first listen, if you correctly predict the timing and type of shift in the first thirty seconds, serious e-props to you.

To wit, Robert: pan flute > no pan flute. Your move.

Last Week: part two of our beginner's arena guide. We featured the cute ukulele kid who pretty much controls the internet right now. After that, we discussed frequently asked questions from new arena players. We talked about how to spec and what team composition to choose, with two different types of answers (easy and long).

Today, we'll be talking some very basic class strategy. If you know your class inside and out, you'll know what I'm going to say when it comes to your class and arena. You can still learn about other classes here. I've written over 2500 words about individual class perspective inside arenas, that's a lot. Full article after the break.


You are the undisputed king of dispels. You can dispel offensively and defensively. Your dispels also remove two magical effects. If you haven't already, make your Dispel Magic button your easiest to reach and most comfortable keybind, you'll be using it incredibly frequently in arena.
  • Discipline: Offensively and defensively Dispel Magic, heal and protect your teammates. Psychic Scream enemy healers, and throw in damage or Mana Burns when your party doesn't need heals. Discipline is a very balanced mix of offensive and defensive capabilities.
  • Shadow: Offensively and defensively dispel. Use DoTs as your primary source of damage. Psychic Scream, Psychic Horror, Silence and Mana Burn enemies at crucial moments in the match (especially when you're looking to score a kill). Shift out of Shadowform to throw heals as a last resort. Your primary role is offensive, you are not responsible for team heals.

At the moment, you have some of the best crowd control in the game in Frost Nova and Polymorph. These can be dispelled, of course, so make sure you "sheep" an opposing dispeller or have Winter's Chill stacked high enough to make it difficult for them to remove it.
  • Frost: Crowd control pretty much everybody with Frost Nova and Polymorph. Make sure you communicate who you are Polymorphing! Counterspell healers when in a good position and enemy dps casters when someone on your team might die. Try to burst enemies with your Water Elemental (Shatter combo by using your Water Elemental's Freeze spell), and pop lots of offensive cooldowns like Mirror Image when a kill opportunity arises. Remember to switch to Mage Armor against dps casters, particularly warlocks.

You are melee damage sponges. You're going to have to get used to being a kill target a lot, practice using your Demonic Circle: Summon and Demonic Circle: Teleport spells at vital times in the match. Make sure you Soul Link new pets when you summon them via Fel Domination. You can also put out a ton of damage and crowd control. If the opposing team decides to attack one of your teammates instead of you, make sure you are carrying your team's offensive burden by putting out a ridiculous amount of pressure (in both damage and crowd control). You will also need to dispel your teammates (and yourself) with your felhunter, this macro might help:

/cast [pet:Felhunter,target=player] Devour Magic
  • Affliction: Put DoTs on everything in sight. Use Howl of Terror and Fear to punish enemies in bad position. Spell Lock healers when your team is doing well, enemy dps casters if your team is doing poorly. This might be the least I write about any spec, but I'm not saying it's easy. An affliction warlock is incredibly hard to master in PvP.
  • Destruction: Get Immolate and Curse of the Elements up on a target and use Chaos Bolt + Conflagrate to burst, or Incinerate for steady pressure. Use Spell Lock in the same way as above. If you're using a succubus, try to avoid casting Immolate or Corruption on a target you might want to Seduce in the near future.

In arena, you are a slippery devil. Your active defensive cooldowns are some of the best in the game. Try to use them sparingly. If you burn your Cloak of Shadows, Evasion, Vanish, and Preparation early, you'll soon be paying the price. That being said, it's better to use them and get killed late than to die early with cooldowns up.
  • Any spec: Try to get a Sap off before combat starts. You're usually going to open with Cheap Shot on your starting target, try to get your team to coordinate lots of burst on your starting target right off the bat. Blind enemy healers at a time that is favorable for your team. If you have to, you can Blind enemy dps when your team is doing poorly. Try to successfully Kick enemy casters (especially healers if you are attacking them).

Cyclone is both your best friend and your annoying little brother. Occasionally, Cyclone will just hand you a win out of no where. Other times, you'll lose a game because you didn't Cyclone a dps, or a healer, or you Cycloned someone instead of healing. A lot of teammates expect you to Cyclone no matter what spec you are. Try to figure out when you can use the spell to your advantage as it is a very powerful ability (and remember, holy paladins can't bubble out of Cyclone).
  • Balance: Cyclone enemy healers when your team is doing well, enemy dps when your team is doing poorly. Entangling Roots opposing melee dps, but be careful if the opposing team has a defensive dispeller (priest, paladin, or felhunter). Try to get your team to coordinate burst when enemy healers are in Cyclones. Use Typhoon on melee dps primarily, but don't be afraid to punish opponents on dalaran arena or blade's edge arena (you can push them off the side).
  • Feral: Bear Form if there is a lot of melee dps on you, or if you need to Bash for crowd control. Use the Predatory Strikes proc (instant Cyclone) to punish enemy healers primarily, but don't be afraid to use it on enemy DPS. You can also use the proc to throw heals to your teammates or yourself via Healing Touch.
  • Restoration: Try to accurately predict what target the enemy team will dps. Pre-HoT (put Lifebloom and Rejuvenation on the suspected target before it takes damage). Try to conserve mana. Stay in Tree Form most of the time, but shift out for Cyclones on enemy dps or healers. Beware of warlocks when in Tree Form, they can Banish you. EDIT: Improved Barkskin was changed. Ignore the following statement. Make sure you put Barkskin up when you Innervate vs. opponents with an offensive dispel.

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