The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into duelling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.
At the time of this article's posting, Passive Enemies is the #1 team in the 2v2 ladder on the Reckoning Battlegroup. SK Gaming's arena ranking tool reveals that they have third highest rating in the USA region. So, Passive Enemies is indisputably a strong team, with a powerful showing in the 2-person Arena. And this isn't their first season doing so -- Reflex carries the coveted "Vengeful Gladiator" title.
WoW Insider was able to catch up with Reflex while he was rocking out in Warsong Gulch, and he was willing to take the time to answer some questions for The Colosseum. Take a look after the jump to see what he had to say.
WoW Insider: What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?
Reflex: In 2v2, we prefer to run Druid/Rogue. In terms of Healer/DPS teams, there is only one challenge we've run into this season, and that is GC and Hoodrych (a Warrior and Resto Shaman). They spec for fighting us and use choice PvE gear for their shaman. That makes it near impossible to employ the simple strategy of locking the warrior down, and DPSing him to run the shaman out of mana. This is a strategy that would likely do wonders versus any other Warrior/Shaman.
I'll go into further detail about that strategy. Your druid is likely specced Dreamstate, or a similar Balance-heavy healing spec, while your rogue is any standard Shadowstep spec with 5/5 Vile Poisons. First, open hard on the warrior, and apply bleeds and DoTs to the druid. After that, it's a simple process of keeping Wounding and Crippling shivved up. Kidney Shot the warrior after Intercepts, and keep Ghostly Strike up whenever the warrior is on you. Use Evasion when the warrior is forced to stay on you; for example, after an Intercept has been countered.
While this is going on, your druid is HoTting your rogue up, and then using Moonkin Form to avoid possible burst damage from Intercept. Moonkin Form also lets you maximize DPS on the enemy warrior. That means DoT rotations and Wrath spam. You will both be watching the shaman to prevent heals and drinks.
It's a plus if your druid can take out Poison Cleansing totems with some Rank One Moonfire. If all goes well, your team's damage output will be too stressful for the shaman to heal efficiently, and he should be out of mana long before your druid. However with GC and Hoodrych, we eventually found this strategy inadequate, although we still managed to beat them a fair amount of times.
We recently ran into them again, and decided to employ our own general strategy of applying pressure wherever we could inflict the most damage. This involved me opening on the shaman and sticking to him as long as possible, while Vorrent CCed the warrior. I would only break off the shaman when Vorrent called for a peel. Even then, I would only break so that Vorrent could re-establish his CC rotations on the warrior.
This proved effective, perhaps because the shaman wore a considerable amount of PvE gear. He probably hoped that we would use the same old strategy. Toward the end of the fight, both teams were OOM and I ended up sitting on the warrior and praying that my mitigation outweighed his. It came down to a hit or two deciding we were the winners. At the time, I was on the warrior, and the warrior was on Vorrent. It was a close match, but the new strategy seemed a lot more solid. Also, Vorrent was not Dreamstate for that -- I forget which resto spec he was at the time.
The only Double-DPS comp we've actually had a good series against and lost was a SPriest/Rogue named Kaziel & Digimortal. However, we kept a good 3:1 or better winning ratio. The games we lost I'd have to say the RNG just wasn't in our favor.
Not having Will of the Forsaken makes me vulnerable to CC combos. Usually, we won if I was able to nullify the priest's fears with Cloaks or Vanishes or even a lucky resist. Most maps, I'll be on the priest, trying to keep him away from my druid. On the Ruins of Lordaeron map, I'll open on an enemy rogue, because the priest can hide in the starting zone. I'll Cloak any Fears when the enemy priest runs at me to peel me off his Rogue.
WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?
Reflex: As soon as the gate opens, I usually run about 10 yards out, create a campfire, and begin dancing to taunt my enemies. LOL. No, I'm a Rogue, I definitely stealth when I come out of the gates.
Though, sometimes, on the Ruins or Blade's Edge maps, I'll mount out of the gate to gain some added distance and then stealth. Our opening strategy depends solely on the comp we're fighting, obviously. I'll just cover a few common 2v2 comps, won't go into depth about the strategy for the entire fight.
Let's say it's DruidWarlock. I'll sap the warlock and open on his pet to throw as much burst as I can at it. Depending how Vorrent's opening CC goes, and how well the enemy can peel, we may or may not kill the pet. More often than not, the pet won't die, and I'll switch over to the warlock to disable him.
Against a Druid/Warrior, I'll let Vorrent solo the warrior while I patrol around, scouting for the druid. I open on him the instant I see him. Then, Vorrent and I will converge on the druid and try to isolate him away from his warrior. A normal druid won't know how to handle the pressure we can dish out together. A well timed Cyclone from Vorrent when I get peeled (or maybe a blind and a fresh opener) will often seal our opponent's fate.
If we fail, we simply play pillars and maximize our defensive play until we get another opening.
When we're up against a Priest/Rogue, if Vorrent is Dreamstate, we can usually just plow over a priest. If I'm Feared or CCed, we can keep him under a Cyclone in return. If the other team is really good, and the rogue is specced for Combat Maces, we're looking at a far more difficult fight. Especially if they land some well-timed Mace Stuns. An example would be our matches against Fervor and Engage, each being around an hour long. I won't even begin to try to tell you a strategy for that. Being able to beat that just comes from seasons of experience with my partner.
Don't take everything I've said here and write it up in your Strategies 101 handbook. There is no real strategy for each comp that you play with or against. Once you fully understand this game, you'll know that there is a number of strategies that you can employ at any time during a fight that may help your situation. Every team is different regardless of the comp. Trust your instincts and do what you feel is best for the situation at hand. If it ended up bad, then you've learned something new. Develop your own play style. Don't be afraid to lose a lot of games along the way to learning how to become a great pvper.
WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?
Reflex: Here is a list of my mods/addons that I use on my rogue.
I've also considered trying out Afflicted.
WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)
Reflex: Target designation, switches, Blinds, and anything like that are all generally decided by Vorrent because he's in a much better situation to do so against most comps. Except for Double-DPS, where he is forced in to defensive play most of the time, and I am in charge of CC.
WoW Insider: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?"
Reflex: We play almost every day if possible. We'll play any time during the day or night, if we're on and think someone with a high rating might be playing. A lot of the time, we can't play during peak hours because Shinanigans, Nerdkilla, and myself all go to raids. But, we will still play just before and after raids.
WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s)
Reflex: From the 1500s to 2000, I'll usually just wear full PvE gear and sit on whichever target I feel like. I won't have to actually get on the proper target until 2000+. Most teams below that have no clue how to handle pressure, and they collapse to anything that does more damage than usual.
From 2K and up, it's more or less the same story except that I usually can't end the game in 10 seconds. At around 2200 is where you start running into the decent teams and it's time for us to play a little more seriously.
WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)
Reflex: This really isn't an issue to us in 2v2. Our general strategy is that we apply pressure wherever we can inflict the most damage. We limit as much incoming damage as we can, which involves quite a bit of target swapping whenever we see openings to do so.
Again, Vorrent will be calling the shots because his position in the fight gives him better insight into how the fight needs to shift. The same goes for 3v3 as Rogue/Lock/Druid. However, if we're running Rogue/Warrior/Druid, we can sometimes see these signals. Often, we'll see it when we're not making headway on our current target due to incoming CC, or if the pressure on Vorrent is too great for him to sustain himself efficiently. Changing strategies mid-fight is as simple as doing a Sprint, Vanish, and then Cheap Shot. Or an Intercept and a Shadowstep to peel and realign our strategy.
WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy?
Reflex: Back to 2v2. The key for our comp's strategy is that we are one of the most balanced comps. Druid/Rogue has the fewest counter-comps, and it isn't much of a counter to anything else. Druid/Rogue can apply the most offensive pressure out of all the Healer/DPS compostions if played properly. In a heartbeat, it can also be the most defensive comp there is for however long you need to be. Together, our mobility is almost unlimited.
WoW Insider: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?
Reflex: I click nothing and I do not keyboard turn. I believe it is imperative to bind all of your abilities, and completely avoid turning with your keyboard in order to achieve maximum mobility and control over your character. Make new keybinds if you need to. They may feel weird at first but you'll get used to them after a while. An awkward keybinding is always better than clicking.
WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?
Reflex: Up until not too long ago, I was pretty vulnerable to tunnel vision and ignoring my surroundings. I've tried to broaden my vision and watch all aspects of a fight so that I can be more aware of the grander picture. I leveled a Druid, not for this purpose of course, and I Arena on it often. I've gotten to 2200 2v2 and 3v3 so far this season, and I believe that has helped me considerably. Playing a caster just requires a better point of view in a fight to succeed.