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


Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women? 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: Royksopp's Remind Me. We were emailed last week by Kohl, who politely recommended some listening music for Blood Sport this week. I was planning on featuring another kind of chill electronica, but Kohl just happened to recommend Royksopp among Hybrid and Kosheen -- so enjoy the beats, Kohl. If you'd like to contribute listening music to the column, please make your recommendation in the comments below. If you want to reach me on a personal level, you can hit me up at colby <at>

Last Week: We discussed how to improve our play. We talked about humility, the myth of luck, practice, team hopping, and having fun. These are all important aspects of a winning player's attitude and belief system. However, as a commenter or two mentioned -- last week's article is helpful if you're already into arena, but what if you're just starting out and have never really played arenas seriously before? That article will help you out a lot. Err, it will...kind of. Maybe? Okay, probably not. Sorry for jumping the gun. Advice for how to improve can definitely be beneficial for the beginning arena combatant, but it's not going to help in comparison to an arena start-up guide.

This week, we'll nickel and dime arena for fresh blood. We haven't talked about tangibles in the past two weeks. That's gonna change now. Prepare to get your pumps primed.

That sounded dirty. Interested? Check out the arena starter guide after the break.

Caution for Catering to Casual Challengers (alliteration is fun!)

Not many people (or almost anyone) would consider me a casual player. Most of our articles at cater to a very broad audience, and that includes people at all levels of play. This article is going to be for people who are just trying out arena for the first time or very new beginners. Part II will be a little more advanced, but again, still not anywhere close to intermediate level. If you've thought about going for an arena title (even Challenger), these articles will not be for you. Sorry.

I apologize in advance for "catering to casuals," but, we only have to go through this beginner arena stuff once. There's tons of intermediate, expert level stuff chilling out in my writing folder right now. Be patient if you're the type of guy who hates these kinds of articles, I won't be writing a ton of them. And if you're a new up-and-coming arena enthusiast, you'll be an intermediate or expert level player soon after reading these articles, right?!

Step 1) Find some arena teams and get points each week.

Trade, guild, friend list, and/or realm forums are your best bet if you're just starting out. Unless you have some pretty geared and experienced friends, you're probably going to be doing arenas with undergeared, inexperienced players just like you. That's fine! You might enjoy it, a lot! You will lose a lot of games, be warned. However, it will get better -- just hang in there.

If you can't find people willing to take you on their teams, arena charters are 40g per person in each bracket. 2v2 charters are 80g total, 3v3 charters are 120g, and 5v5 charters are 200g. The larger the bracket, the more points you will be awarded with equal ratings. You can use the armory arena calculator to see how many points you will get at any given rating.

Those points from 2900 5v5 is pretty awesome, but don't set your goal that high. You can get a ton of arena gear just by getting 400-700 points each week.

Even if you lose all your games on the week and go 0-10, you'll get 261 arena points from 2v2, 303 points from 3v3, or 344 from 5v5. It's not much, but it's a start and certainly better than nothing. You can get top tier off-hands for 300 points, so it's nothing to scoff at.

Important things to remember about getting arena points per week:

  • Your team needs to have played at least 10 total games on the week to be eligible for weekly points.
  • You need to have played at least 30% of the games played on the week to be eligible for weekly points. Your percentage of games played on the season doesn't matter at all for gaining points, it's just weekly percentage.
  • You need to be within 150 personal rating (PR) of the team rating (TR) to be eligible for weekly points at the team's rating. If you are below 150 personal rating, but have at least 30% of weekly played games, you will gain points based on your personal rating instead of team rating.
  • Points from your 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 don't add or stack. You will receive the points from the bracket giving you the most points (not the highest rated bracket). For example, if you have a 2001 3v3 and a 1999 5v5, you will be awarded points based on your 5v5.
  • Matchmaking Rating (MMR) has nothing to do with getting points on the week.
  • Any team rated below 1500 will give you the same amount of points as if you were on a 1500 rated team. If you have a 1500 rated 5v5, it will give you 344 arena points. If you have a 892 rated 5v5, it will give you 344 arena points. Yes, if you have a 0 rated 5v5, it will give you 344 arena points -- as long as you're eligible.
TL;DR version: Find a team or create your own, play at least 10 games each week, and make sure you have 30% played on the week.

Step 2) In between arenas, get honor PvP gear from battlegrounds and Wintergrasp.

Gear isn't everything, but it is important. It's going to help your team dramatically. Having better gear allows you to play less defensively, whether it's stronger dps or stronger heals. Having sick gear will help you to be in control of the match -- and that's always a good thing.

Try to waste as little honor as possible on inferior gear (exception: 1800 weapon vs. 2200 weapon). The order of gear from best to worst currently goes:
  1. Wrathful (season eight)
  2. Relentless (season seven)
  3. Furious (season six)
  4. Deadly (season five)
  5. Hateful (epic starter gear)
  6. Savage (blue starter gear)
I'm listing Wrathful in case someone stumbles onto this article in season eight (and I make a point later that might be confusing without Wrathful being at the top there). At the time of this article being published, it is season seven -- there are no Wrathful Gladiator items in game. Research obtainable arena gear with Wowhead.

You'll only be able to get the previous two seasons of gear. It's season seven right now, so you'll be able to pick up your Relentless Gladiator PvP pieces if you have a high personal and team rating. You'll be able to purchase Furious Gladiator pieces with intermediate personal and team ratings. You can purchase Deadly gear with no arena teams at all.

Hateful and Savage gear are no longer obtainable through any means in-game. (EDIT: Actually, I'm dumb. Archavon still drops hateful gear in 10 man Vault of Archavon, as well as being able to be purchased via badges. Thanks, Avrus and Achiistra!) This is to prevent people from accidentally wasting honor on Hateful or Savage gear when they can buy Deadly (which is strictly superior and has no additional rating requirements). In season eight, everything will move up a step. Wrathful will be the pieces bought with a high personal rating, Relentless gear will have an intermediate rating requirement, and Furious gear will have no rating requirements.

You're free to farm a billion honor, spend it on a full set of deadly gear then upgrade to furious (then relentless) whenever you get the personal rating to do so. It's also a colossal waste of time. Relentless off-pieces sometimes require low-to-intermediate personal rating requirements. Relentless Gladiator's Bracers of Triumph (and all other top-tier PvP bracers) only require a personal rating of 1200.

Here's a full break-down of current arena gear and personal ratings in season seven:
When I hit 80 on a new character, I do a ridiculous amount of honor-gaining activities -- mostly BGs. The second thing I'll do is join an arena team and try to hit 1200-1300. Sometimes it's difficult, especially if you're not playing with the most skilled of teammates. That's okay -- hang in there! You can often join someone's team that's above 1000 and have your personal rating start at 1000! That means you only need 200 points to go until you can buy a top-end PvP piece (bracers).

From there, it only gets easier to go to 1250 for your belt and 1300 for your boots. Slowly move up the arena ladders, and get pieces as you go along. Soon, you'll have more resilience than you'll know what to do with.

EDIT: As mentioned in the comments section, once Patch 3.3 hits, the battleground daily will also give 25 arena points upon completion. That's an extra 175 arena points per week! Make sure to do the BG daily each day. Thanks, smcn!

Step 3) Vault of Archavon. Raid it. Every week.

VoA drops a ton of beastly PvP gear. Try to either organize the raid group or be very selective. You want to make sure if PvP gear drops, you'll get it, but don't ninja!

Also, try not to spend your arena points on hands or legs. VoA drops both of those items in great quantity, and you'll be kicking yourself if you spent 1000+ arena points on those new awesome gloves, only for it to drop in VoA two days later.

Next Week:

Okay, this was a lot longer than I originally expected. Unfortunately, this article didn't have any cool strategy tips, office clips, or unsuccessful attempts at humor. So... part two incoming!

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