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The Colosseum: The man known as Varl

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 dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.

In the world of the Arena, one Paladin's name stands alone. It is a name of pride and success. It is a name that veritably screams, "I am a gladiator." It is a name that is very, very hard to spell. That's why Varluneyna's friends simply call him "Varl."

If you're not familiar with him, Varl is a Holy Paladin. His 2v2 team is the top rated team on the Reckoning battlegroup, while his 3v3 team ain't doing shabby either. He's also the top rated Paladin in the world right now, but his live server ratings. Varl took the time to talk to us (which was awesome) about both his 2v2 and his 3v3 experienes (which is totally awesome.)

Check out what Varl had to say behind the cut.
Varl answered regarding 2v2s first. For readability, we're keeping this as if two separate interviews.

WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?

Varl: My teammate right now is Ehkz who is a Death Knight. The general plan for our composition is to get their healer into a position where they cannot escape. The biggest challenge that we face is any team with a Warlock, as they are the hardest counter to our team. I have heard that Paladin / Hunter is a counter to us as well, though the ones I have faced are not the best. Against a healer / DPS team, their DPS is usually on me so Ehkz helps where he can. But mostly, we focus on killing their healer before I die.

WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?

Varl: When the gates first drop, we see who we will be facing for the game and make plans based off of that. We try to make the other team fight us on our terms rather than running directly to them, aside for on Ring of Valor which is thankfully removed.

WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?

Varl: The mods that I most heavily rely on are Gladius and Xperl. Gladius since it allows me to quickly see who we are facing and be able to quickly target them if needed, and Xperl because it allows me to move target / party frames around. I use Dominos for a bar mod, though it's not a need-to-have thing in my opinion.

WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)

Varl: Most of the time Ehkz calls out the target. For 2s, this isn't a big deal, but it is for 3s.

WoW Insider: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?" Is this different now than in previous seasons?

Varl: Honestly, we just play whenever we are both on and have time to play. We really have to schedule time for getting to the rating we want to be at, as well as time for gaining points back if we should lose.

WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?

Varl: If me and Ehkz were to start over at 1500 in 2s right now, we would play it the same as we do now at 2700. Why would you purposefully play worse in a worse bracket? is my reasoning behind it.

WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)

Varl: It really depends on what the other team is doing. If they were going hard on Ehkz and suddenly stop doing as much damage, I realize that they are either trying to switch to me or get him into a position that I can't heal him.

WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?

Varl: Mostly, the strategy is just to DPS the healer while I help burst with Holy Shock / Judgements and assist with a stun. There is not much we can do as we have no CC.

WoW Insider: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?

Varl: The only skills on my bars that I click are my water, pre-Arena buffs (Might and Wisdom) and my Res (Which is almost never used). I have everything that I use in any sort of frequency bound to a key, so you are able to focus on the game rather than where you placed a spell.

WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?

Varl: What I am trying to improve right now is when a DPS is on me, going towards Ehkz rather than away from him. I am also trying to find ways to improve against Warlocks in terms of combating their Fear. If Ehkz gets feared away from me, I have to reveal myself in order to heal him and risk getting feared myself.

WoW Insider: A lot has been made of healers not having a strong role in Season 5. What do you think about that commentary?

Varl: I disagree that healers are not having a strong role in Season 5. How many 2s teams do you see without a healer on them? There are some, like past seasons, but I feel that a healer is just as strong as they were in past, except maybe for priests and druids. They really do seem to be quite weak compared to the other healers.

WoW Insider: What are you hoping to see improved in 3.1? We've seen some changes, obviously, but there's more to come.

Varl: I am quite happy with paladins at this current time. The buffs that we have received (Aura Mastery and Prot tree buffs) are quite nice, though the one thing I don't quite understand is the Sacred Shield nerf. It will just make us weaker in 3v3 and 5v5 where we are not nearly as strong as 2v2. It will not have much effect at all in 2v2.

And now, let's talk about 3v3 . . .

WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?

Varl: My teammates right now are Bobblehead and Ehkz. The general plan behind this comp is to take the strength of DKs -- which is killing most anything -- and combine it with a rogue's CC, poisons and DPS to kill people quickly.

The biggest challenge that our team has are teams that can counterspell me while still keeping pressure on one of my partners. If I get counterspelled during a cast, one of them will die. If I do not bubble as soon as I get counterspelled, one of them dies.

WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?

Varl: What we try to do is have Bobblehead get a sap off on one of them and then just rush someone on their team and hope to kill him before we die. Once we have opened up on them, we try to stay on a single target while slowing / blinding another target.

WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?

Varl: For the lower level brackets, Bobblehead was able to be out of stealth at the start of the game. As we got into the higher brackets, he was just focused and was forced into a role of applying wounding poison on someone and then vanishing so he did not die before I could get a heal off on him.

WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)

Varl: Who they get on makes me change how I play dramatically. If they get on Ehkz, I am able to help damage and stun targets when I can, but if they are on Bobble, I basically have to heal him full time. If they make a switch, it can be very hard to prevent Bobble from dying.

WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?

Varl: What we try to do is kill their healer before they can do damage. There are multiple ways that we can play this. If they are on Ehkz from the very start and are putting out decent damage -- not just auto attacking -- then Bobble can afford to come out of stealth and open up on our target. However, if they seem to be waiting for Bobble to come out, he has to play it really defensively and can usually only afford to Cheap Shot, mutilate, kidney shot and then vanish to avoid dying.

WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?

Varl: The biggest thing that I am trying to improve right now is not being bad, as Bobble constantly reminds me I am. Just minor mistakes that I make can usually cost us the game.

The Colosseum is an interview series by WoW Insider, meant to reveal strategies, compositions, and tactics from the Arena fighters who use them. For more PvP information, be sure to hit up Blood Sport and the Art of War(craft).

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Interviews, Arena, The Colosseum

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