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Blood Sport: Iron sharpens iron, part 5


Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 Gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in Blood Sport.

Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of this series on allowing others to shape your arena gameplay. Today will be the last installment of this extra-long series. I intended to end this last week, but wasn't content with the amount of content delivered concerning people who had shaped me as a gladiator. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.

Barry, hunter hero

Barry was our hunter on my first Rank 1 drain team 5v5. Barry approached the game so much differently than anyone else I had encountered. He had total confidence in his teammates and their abilities to play their own class; he only wanted strong communication.

At a time when hunters were considered to be easily the worst arena class ever produced, Barry made all of us think they were overpowered. He could crowd control three enemies on the opposing team while pumping out a ridiculous amount of damage. His druid partner just said a few very important words after we all realized how amazing Barry really was: "I told you so."

Barry's common tactic was straightforward, simple, effective, and (surprisingly) somewhat revolutionary. Our 5v5 team was based around Barry; he stood in the center of every map and just shot whatever was out in the open. If we needed to flank an enemy from behind a pillar, Barry wouldn't run toward them -- he would just sit atop his center pillar, picking them off as they ran away from us. By placing himself in the center of the arena, he became a human turret that allowed us to play the map in a completely different way than enemy teams had experienced.

If we needed to play defense, we could easily retreat to our side, with Barry slowing and crowd-controlling the enemy team. If an enemy foolishly trespassed into our territory, we would immediately send all our pressure on him, forcing him to try to retreat to his team (which was usually too late, as our team consisted of four classes with excellent crowd control for enemy healers).

Melee classes were almost completely neutralized by Barry -- and not because he forced them to drop in damage. They just simply couldn't get to us before Barry jacked up the pressure on them. Spellcasting teams usually were hurt badly, too, as Barry would create a seemingly unending supply of spell pushback to whoever decided to poke his little head out from behind the pillar.

The most amazing thing about Barry, however, was his willingness to change and adapt. Barry encouraged us to constantly try out new strategies against opposing team compositions -- even if it meant not using the "best" strategy. Sometimes we would attack the worst target on an opposing team, just to see how hard it really was to kill that certain class or player. Sometimes, this would catch teams completely off guard because no one ever targeted that player, and we would get an easy kill. It also allowed us to keep the enemy team on its toes if we played them multiple times -- if we went for an "inferior" target and still won, what would happen if they went for other targets? It was extremely intimidating.

Barry taught me the importance and value of going against the grain. He will forever remain one of the most influential (if not the most influential) arena partners I have ever played with.

Andy, real-life friend and king of alts

Andy is one of my closest friends and one of the only people I still play with who knows me in real life. (It's sad -- most of my friends quit.) Andy started playing WoW with me about a week after I started.

Andy is an altoholic. After we hit max level together (he played a mage), he decided to level a warlock (as I was singing their praises and warlocks kind of destroyed mages at the time in both PVP and PVE). Then, after deciding that fighting me for gear and arena spots was a bad idea, he decided to roll a rogue. He loved the rogue but found himself playing a paladin, warrior, and an assortment of other classes. He currently plays a hunter and a death knight.

Somewhat interestingly, this gives Andy an incredible insight into how different classes operate. When I played arena with Andy, he would call out what opponents were doing and when their burst opportunities were available. While I knew a general sense of Well, they're playing offensively right now; beware of health dropping low, Andy would know that an opposing paladin and rogue were going to chain specific abilities in a specific way. Hats off to that kind of knowledge, especially when it can affect the type of defense your team has access to.

Andy's problem is that he works odd hours and doesn't have a ton of arena experience to attach to his name. He's good enough to hit Gladiator with seven different classes, but he usually finds himself bouncing around among them and not getting a ton accomplished with any particular one. Moreover, it's hard to get name recognition among the top tier of players when you find yourself torn between seven different characters.

Real-life friends are one of the most enticing reasons to play WoW, and I'm just very lucky that I have a skilled friend who has played so many different classes at such a high skill level, even if he doesn't have nifty titles to go with them. You usually can't judge a player by the amount of words in front of their name, and Andy is no exception. I would rather play 200 arena games with Andy than 10 with a six-time Rank 1 Gladiator who is the epitome of wet blanket.

Listening Music Marvin Gaye with a combination of What's Going On / What's Happening Brother. It's long (9 minutes), but oh, so worth it.

Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? We'll steer you to victory with the best arena addons and let you in on some rank 1 gladiator PvP secrets. Be sure to check out our guide to PvP keybindings.

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