Every Thursday, V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.
A quick look at the chart above and one thing clearly leaps out. Clue: it has to do with mortal strikes, HoTs and cyclones.
Well, every third team you meet nowadays in 2v2 will probably be a Warrior-Druid team. This comp (short for composition) seems to be running away with the 2v2 bracket currently: 20 of the top 50 US teams are Warrior-Druid comps - that's 40%. For teams with ratings greater than 2200, close to 30% are Warrior-Druid. They also make up almost a quarter of all 2v2 teams, regardless of rating. That's a lot of Warrior-Druid teams.
What makes the comp tick?
In this comp, the Warrior is obviously the main, durable source of almost inexhaustible DPS. The Druid, usually specced resto (8/11/42), adds to the Warrior's survivability and brings versatility to the team. The win condition of this comp is simple: outlast their opponents.
The Warrior-Druid team will generally open with the Druid stealthed in cat form. This effectively hides the higher priority (healer) target from the other team, until heals are called for. The Warrior can usually hold the fort for a few seconds, while dismantling softer targets of the other team: clothies or other healers. They generally want to establish control while surviving as long as possible before their teammates step in with some healing love.
Resto druids are extremely mobile healers, with fire-and-forget HoTs cast on the go, travel form to zip around maps and immunity to polymorph. Their mobility is augmented by various abilities to immobilize threats: roots, cyclone, maim, and even bash and charge in bear form. Their job in the Arena is largely defensive and evasive - staying out of trouble by using LOS and CC abilities. That said, a well-timed CC on the other team's healer can be a devastating offensive move by this versatile class.
A match against a Warrior-Druid team often feels like the Warrior is unkillable, with the wily healer just prancing out of reach and LOS. This often forces their opponents to blow their cooldowns in an effort to burst down either, which is probably what the Warrior-Druid team wants. The premise of the team, after all, is to survive everything their opponents throw at them while maintaining a healthy mana for the Druid, so that the Warrior can continue to DPS the way to victory.
In a gaming environment, when one archetype is prevalent, we can expect a second archetype to emerge as an answer or counter to the dominant archetype. Looking at the three most popular team comps at the top of the 2v2 bracket, we have:
Warrior-Druid 29.5% (-4.5% from last week)
Rogue-Priest 15.2% (-0.8%)
Warlock-Druid 10.6% (not in top three last week)
Of the top 50 Rogue-Priest teams, about half field a shadow Priest (20/0/41). This is significant as only about 6% of priests in top Arena teams are specced shadow, with the vast majority being holy discipline* (thanks Tyler) priests. In other words, most of the shadow priests in 2v2 are represented in Rogue-Priest teams. It comes as no surprise that this comp, while good against other archetypes, is probably also one of the tougher comps a Warrior-Druid team can find itself up against.
A Priest can dispel HoTs and silence the Druid - definitely cramping the latter's healing potential. Abolish Poison can also be dispelled, allowing time for the Rogue's wound poison to stack and further reducing the effectiveness of druidic healing. Most shadow priest and rogue teams will focus their fire on the Warrior to quickly force the Druid out of hiding. Thereafter, the Rogue will go after the healer while the shadow priest continues to wear the Warrior down. In this scenario of split DPS, Warrior-Druid teams will play very defensively to buy time for HoTs, exhaust the Rogue's tricks, and hopefully deplete the Priest's mana.
Interestingly, the Rogue and holy discipline* Priest comp is considered less dangerous by Warrior-Druid teams. While the Priest may try to dispel, silence or mana burn the Druid, the Warrior's damage output on the Rogue will force the Priest to focus keeping his teammate alive. In this matchup, both the Warrior's durability and the Druid's mobility against Rogue DPS are definitely assets.
A Warlock-Druid matchup is almost an endurance match, with both teams very capable of keep their main DPSer alive. The Warlock will try to take down the opposing Druid; mobility is important here for the Druid, to duck out of LOS of the Warlock's nukes and fear.
While the Warrior generally has nothing to fear (heh) from the Warlock, interference from the opposing Druid will make the durable Warlock hard to dispatch. The Warrior may also go after the Warlock's pet (twice if necessary, for Demonology warlocks) in an effort to disable Soul Link or other disruptive pet abilities. In this matchup, the toons will seem to be running in circles: Warrior hunts Warlock, Warlock hunts Druid A, Druid A trys to CC Druid B, Druid B tries to heal Warlock and CC Warrior. Thankfully, Druid B's mana is not inexhaustible and again, the Warrior-Druid team may triumph by simply outlasting their opponents.
A strategy that has emerged to counter the MS Warrior's ubiquity in all brackets is the 'Warrior gib'. The premise of this strategy is to burst gib the Warrior with multiple sources of burst DPS before his or her healers have any chance of healing. In the 2v2 bracket, this means two sources of burst DPS - which I suspect aren't fast enough to take down a well-geared Warrior who has stacked up on resilience. A dual-DPS team like the Rogue-Mage also means no healers. Against a field of other DPS-heal archetypes, dual-DPS teams probably do not do well enough to pose a viable threat. Rogue-Mage teams form only about 4% of the field in the US 2v2 bracket.
Are you in a Warrior-Druid team, and if you are, what are your experiences? Do you think that this comp is the "best" in 2v2? What other counter-strategies can you suggest against this team?
In other brackets, the most popular comps for top-level teams on the US servers are:
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Warlock 16.9% (-0.2% from last week)
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Mage 12.4% (+1%)
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Hunter-Warlock 5.6% (-0.1%)
Rogue-Priest-Mage 18.9% (+1.3%)
Rogue-Druid-Warlock 8.7% (-1.1%)
Warrior-Priest-Druid 7.9% (-0.9%)
In the chart above, warlocks seemed to have relinquished their dueling superiority to the Warrior-Druid combo, although they are still the third most represented class in 2v2. Hunters have all but shrugged off their 'red-headed stepchild of Arenas' status by maintaining their fourth most represented class standing in 2v2. Pallies and shammies fill the 5v5 bracket, leaving their hybrid brethren - druids - to dominate the smaller brackets. Rogues are peculiarly prevalent in the middle-of-the-road 3v3 bracket.
* For some reason, my fingers typed 'holy' when I was thinking 'discipline' - must be the expired eggnog ... thanks again for pointing out the blatant mistakes.