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Blood Sport: Beginner's Guide to Arena, Part IV



Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women? Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all-things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in WoW.com's arena column.

Listening Music: Zero, by the Smashing Pumpkins. I knew I wanted to feature the pumpkins today, I just didn't know what song. I sifted through maybe twenty or thirty songs. I thought about featuring Cherub Rock, Bullet with Butterfly Wings, Today, and The Everlasting Gaze, among others. 1979 was out of the question -- it feels like too much like Sesame Street to me. In the end, it came down to Zero or Eye. I wanted to feature the Ghost in the Shell video of Eye (NSFW), but it's got a little cartoon nudity in it, so that's why we're going with Zero today.

Last Week: Part III of our beginner's arena guide. We discussed very basic arena strategy for many popular specs of each class. Last week's column is pretty long -- about twice the length of a normal Blood Sport article. Check it out if you have the time; it'll set a good foundation for today's subject.

This Week: We'll be talking about the qualities of a skilled arena healer. Full article after the break!

There are three fundamental marks of an amazing healer in any bracket (we'll talk about which ones are of greater importance in different brackets later -- but for now, discussing and working on all areas of play is best).
  • Survivability
  • Conservation
  • Utility
Survivability

Survivability consists of healing, anti-damage oriented spells (e.g. Power Word: Shield) and defensive cooldowns (e.g. Pain Suppression). Every healing class has many options of each. Certain spells which fill the same role are usually better at that role, depending on the class you play. Lifebloom, for instance, is generally thought to be a better HoT than Renew. This, of course, is because the restoration druid is supposed to have a lot of effective HoTs which encourage damage softening, preventative healing, and psychic powers (or whatever you want to call it). Certain healers are more adept at certain aspects in WoW, that's just how the game is played.

Defensive cooldowns are used for specific situations. Blessing Hand of Protection is great against physical damage but does nothing to stop great balls of fire. Lots of defensive cooldowns can be used in many different ways. Although Hand of Freedom is used frequently on offense, to help your melee teammate get to an opponent (and therefore would be considered utility), a paladin can also use it on a teammate to prevent a Shatter combo from a frost mage.

Survivability is the measure of how well you keep your team alive.

Conservation

Conservation is a two sided coin: how well you conserve your mana and your defensive cooldowns. Some classes are naturally better at keeping mana bars high -- holy paladins are regarded as the kings of rarely going out-of-mana in arena. Innervate, Hymn of Hope, Divine Plea, Mana Tide Totem (pretty bad compared to the others, don't you think?), and other mana returning cooldowns help to keep your mana high and your teammates out of trouble. Use them wisely.

The other half of conservation is being wise with your defensive cooldowns.

If you're forced to use them early, you or your team is not conserving your mana very well, and this forces you to not conserve your important mana-up cooldowns very well either. Sometimes, burning mana returning cooldowns early is smart. If you know it's going to be an incredibly long game where the healer who goes oom first loses, it might be a smart strategy to use your cooldowns early in order to have them up sooner in the future (just as long as you don't go over your maximum mana bar and 'overheal' mana). Using an Innervate and only getting half the benefit due to overmana is just bad.

Defensive cooldowns are situation based. Pain Suppression is easy to understand when to use. If someone is low on your team, you pop it and you'll prevent your teammate from dying. Hopefully your teammate has a full row of buffs on him and there is no offensive dispeller on the opposing team. Other cooldowns, like Divine Shield, are much more difficult to correctly determine. Do you bubble in order to prevent a Counterspell? Do you bubble at 40%, 20%, or otherwise? Can you use any other abilities before bubbling?

If you completely smoked the enemy team, you might say "and we didn't even need to use Nature's Swiftness" (or something like it). This shows that your team played well and allowed you to conserve an important defensive cooldown...or the enemy team didn't use their defensive cooldowns and died in a few globals. Either way, you got a win and it was a strong one.

Conservation is the measure of how well you keep your mana bar high, and how often your defensive cooldowns are available.

Utility

Utility is that everything-else quality that healers bring to the table. It can be something like Aura Mastery, which is just unbelievable for a heavy spellcasting team. It can be additional damage like a Lava Bursting resto shaman. It can be healer crowd control (which is the coolest kind) in Cyclone or Psychic Scream. "Dispels" also fall into this category. Yeah, it's a big category.

Tangent: I hate when people say that a druid just dispelled a curse. It's a decurse. Call it a decurse. We don't dispel poisons, we Cure or Abolish them. I've heard people say depoison. I'm cool with that, I guess. Call it something other than a dispel.

Of course, I'm classlexic, so maybe I shouldn't be complaining that much. I've probably called enemy healers 'the priest' more often than their correct class. People who play with me get used to it, just like I get used to them asking for dispels on Devouring Plague (sigh). Tangent over.

Most new healers will focus on only one or two out of these fundamentals. You might have been paired up with a restoration druid that Cyclones and Entangling Roots the enemy team every chance he gets, but subsequently everyone on your team is at very low health because he should be healing at some of those times instead. I played with a restoration druid just recently that cast Cyclone on the enemy healer while our hunter teammate was clinging to his life at 20% health for over five seconds. He died. We lost. We laughed about it afterward (with him, not at him).

If the restoration druid had a full game, he would have been playing less offensively when we were clearly behind.

Utility is the ability to think like a teammate and not a heal-bot. It consists of being able to damage, CC, remove debuffs, and provide the most you can do to help your team win the game at hand. It requires a good 'big picture' mentality, which we'll get into later.

Next Week...

I originally planned on discussing both DPS and differences in 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5. We'll probably go over DPS next week, and the brackets (all in one week) the week after that. Then, positioning -- complete with MS Paint skills. These beginner articles are much more fun to write than I originally thought they would be. Hopefully you're all having fun reading them!



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

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Walkthroughs, PvP, Features, Classes, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Battlegrounds, Arena

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