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Blood Sport: Beginner's guide to arena, part III, page 2



Totems, Wind Shear, and Bloodlust or Heroism are your most class-defining aspects and abilities as a whole in PvP. When you're not healing or doing damage, you need to be making sure your totems are still up. If your kill target isn't going down, you need to assist your team by interrupting the enemy healer successfully. Bloodlust / Heroism is a very tricky spell in arena. The vast majority of the time, you will only be able to use it once per arena match. It's vital that you use it at the correct time. Unfortunately, only skilled teammates and experience in the arena will help you to use it correctly. It's the most situational spell in the entire game.

  • Elemental: Punish teams on blade's edge arena and dalaran arena with Thunderstorm. Use correct totems (i.e. Tremor Totem if there is an opposing warlock, priest, or perhaps warrior). Purge your kill target (and possibly secondary 'switch' target). Flame Shock your kill target and try to Lava Burst + Chain Lightning + Lightning Bolt burst combo at opportune times. When your burst cooldowns aren't available, remember to Wind Shear healers and let your teammates pick up the slack.
  • Enhancement: Earthbind Totem is huge, it removes snares and snares opponents. Weigh the benefits of Earthbind Totem vs. Tremor Totem vs. certain teams. If you're in 3v3 vs. a death knight + warlock + healer combo, you will need to figure out if Tremor Totem (breaking Fear) or Earthbind Totem (breaking Chains of Ice and Conflagrate Daze or Curse of Exhaustion) is more valuable. Also, you'll be interrupting heals with Wind Shear as enhancement a lot.
  • Restoration: In addition to the healing you're probably used to, you are a very helpful healer for killing opponents. You'll be often asked to Purge (offensively dispel) the kill target, as well as 'shock' (i.e. Wind Shear) heals from the opposing healer. You also have access to some baller damage abilities when you don't need to heal anything. You are one of the most offensive healers in arena (you're not made to sit back and spam shiny hand abilties like a holy paladin).

Doing arenas as a hunter is far different than raiding or doing battlegrounds. Skilled PvPers will abuse line-of-sight as a defense against hunters. Player vs. Pillar is the most challenging obstacle as a new player in arenas. Your main goal should be to always be damaging something. Don't chase players when they jump behind a pillar, just start shooting something else. Chasing opponents around pillars for half the game is the most frequent mistake I see hunters make in arenas -- and it also happens to be one of the most harmful. Call out your target switch and your team will adjust.

You have been maligned as the worst arena class in the history of WoW. While this might have been true for many seasons, hunters are not terrible in WotLK. You have a high damage potential and respectable active survivability cooldowns (Deterrence, Disengage, and Feign Death, to name a few). Don't think you can't succeed in arena because of your class -- hunters have achieved rank #1 gladiator title in every season thus far -- you can too!
  • Any spec: No matter what spec you choose, you're probably going to want Aimed Shot. An instant cast 50% Mortal Strike debuff (reduced healing) is too much to pass up. Luckily, it's only eleven points down in the marksman tree. Use distance-creating abilities such as Disengage to get away from melee dps if they choose to attack you. If you can't get away from melee dps, try to attack something different on the opposing team -- like the healer, or opposing ranged dps. Try to combo healers into Freezing Trap. You might Intimidate, Scatter Shot, or Wyvern Sting first (depending on your spec). Try to run over to them while dpsing and get them in a trap after your initial crowd control.

Try to save Intimidating Shout for a kill. Use it defensively (to stop enemy dps from killing someone on your team) only if you absolutely have to. Use Shield Wall and Spell Reflection to avoid dying, but don't be too trigger-happy to go defensive. Pop defensive cooldowns only when you sense death is near (exception: reflecting an important spell like a warlock Death Coil). You want to stay offensive for the vast majority of the game.
  • Arms: Two weeks ago, you might have been the most overpowered class in arena as arms spec. The Sweeping Strikes + Bladestorm Combo just got nerfed. Charge like it's going out of style. Don't worry about the cooldown, you can always intervene if you need to get back to your healer. If you are high on rage and have damage cooldowns available, you might not want to Pummel. Lots of new PvP warriors think that if a warrior doesn't pummel, he isn't a good warrior. This is not true. You need to weigh the situation at hand and analyze the reward ratios of dumping rage with lots of damage into someone with preventing an ability (and possibly missing the pummel). You'll probably want to Pummel heals, especially if they're low on health and you're low on rage. Also, try to save Bladestorm for a kill, don't waste it to avoid crowd control.
  • Protection: You are the master of control within the arena. Think of yourself as the ultimate annoyance. You want to make yourself as bothersome to the other team as possible. When you see your opponent create a thread on arenajunkies that's title is "protection specs are absolutely stupid in arenas," you know you're doing it right. You will never be targetted. Ever. Use that to your advantage and play aggressively. Wear gear that will maximize your damage for added pressure, I've seen prot warriors match well-geared affliction warlock damage in 3v3. If you're the main tank of a guild and haven't stepped into arena, right now is a great time to do prot PvP.
Keybinding an Intervene macro will allow you to ping pong around arenas with Charge and Intercept. I highly recommend every warrior (no matter the spec) make a special keybind for this macro, or one like it:

/cast [target=YourHealer'sName] Intervene


You are a very survivable class, no matter what your spec is. Paladins are one of the few classes that can afford to wear ridiculous amounts of PvE gear. Take advantage of it if you can -- but don't be afraid to don the PvP gear if teams start attacking you. As any spec, you should be watching your party bars. Try to have Hand of Protection and Hand of Freedom ready for everyone on your team at all times.
  • Holy: Healing is your thing, dude. Blizzard's given you some neat PvP abilities like Hammer of Justice and Turn Evil, but your primary deal is gonna be to pick a spot and Flash of Light and Cleanse people. You can use Aura Mastery either defensively (if you suspect a mage is going to Counterspell you), or offensively (if you want your spell dps teammates to blow something up without fearing interrupts). You can also Divine Shield (bubble) defensively to prevent Spell Locks. Hammer of Justice is one of the best finishing moves in the game (it's a instant cast magical stun) -- use it on an opposing healer or enemy dps to put the nail in the coffin. Similarly, if a priest runs towards you, think about using Hammer of Justice on him before he gets in range (he's gonna Psychic Scream you)!
  • Retribution: You're an extremely survivable dps class. Most people on your team will be targeted before you. This allows you to use more PvE gear if you have access to it. Pump out as much damage as humanly possible. Save Hammer of Justice for healers or your kill target when you're almost about to win. I see lots of new PvP retadins using Hammer of Justice as their first spell -- this is the worst possible use for it. Try to not use it just to keep someone from running away -- depend on your team to help you out or just switch targets if they get away. The single most important thing that separates the amazing retribution paladin from the average ret is the group support. Cleanse and small heals are so important, missing them doesn't outright lose you every game, but it can certainly contribute. Keep an eye on your partners and get them out of crowd control and trouble.
Death Knights

Instead of concentrating on doing the most damage possible to your opponent, look at the big picture and ask yourself what you can do to help win this game. It might be lowering your damage by not casting Icy Touch with that frost rune, but Chains of Ice on a warrior instead. Instead of attacking the warlock, you might want to sit on the holy paladin to threaten Mind Freezing his heals. Although you're being targetted more in recent months, you're still a very survivable class with active magic defenses and plate armor -- you'll be able to wear some PvE gear if you have access to it.
  • Unholy: Think of yourself as a control class. Yes, you can certainly put the hurt on an opposing team -- but raw damage is not what makes a death knight skilled at PvP. You have access to some of the best controlling abilities in the game. Spam Chains of Ice on opponents, particularly melee dps. Death Grip an opponent trying to attack your healer. Use Anti-Magic Shell to make that warlock waste his Haunt cooldown. Spread your diseases on 2-3 members of the opposing team and follow it up by Gnawing the healer to put them behind. Save Strangulate for the death knell. You want to be sure you will kill an enemy by Strangulating the healer -- don't use Strangulate and hope you get a bunch of crits.
That'll wrap up this week in Blood Sport. Tune in next week when we talk more specific (and slightly more advanced) strategy. We might get into positioning a bit as well. Leave a comment below!

Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Check out's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.

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