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



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: Miles Davis and John Coltrane's beautiful "So What." We featured the Smashing Pumpkins last week. This week, we'll be shifting gears to some brilliant jazz. You have to love the diversity Blood Sport offers in pwning music.

Last Week: Part IV of our Arena Guide for Beginners. We talked about the marks of a skilled healer inside an arena battle.

This Week: Not surprisingly, today's article will be structured in a very similar fashion to our last for our bloodthirsty DPS readers. More after the break!

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There are three fundamental marks of an amazing damage dealer 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).
  • Pressure
  • Burst
  • Crowd Control
As mentioned in our previous article, certain classes are better than others at niches within arena PvP. Restoration druids, for instance, have much stronger HoTs than holy paladins. Holy paladins also have better defensive cooldowns than restoration druids. This is intentional, and good for the game.

Certain DPS specializations (notice: not classes) are better at pressure damage than they are at burst damage. Again, this is intentional. Warlocks are a great example. A destruction warlock bases his damage largely on burst. An affliction warlock, on the other hand, has comparatively less burst but considerably more pressure.

Pressure


Pressure consists of doing a high amount of damage constantly and consistently. Those two words look similar, but are very different in gameplay.

Constant pressure is the ability to force your opponents to play defensively for a relatively long period of time. Consistent pressure is the ability to apply constant pressure in a variety of circumstances. Constant pressure is the set of abilities Blizzard has given your class to do high overall damage. Consistent pressure is how capable you are of applying it in adverse conditions.

For lack of a better analogy: Constancy is class plus gear. Consistency is skill plus experience.

The vast majority of pressure will come from damage. Doing lots and lots of damage is the best way to put an opposing team on the defensive. When you're in control of the battle, you're much more likely to understand what your enemies' options are. This, of course, will improve your probability of winning the match.

You can also put the enemy on the defensive by using blanket silences (e.g. Strangulate, Spell Lock, Silence) on healers to get ahead in the battle rather than using them to score a kill. However, unless you're a seasoned veteran you probably want to stick to using blanket silences for very important times in the match.

Furious Gladiator Dahis, a warrior from BG9, made a commentary arena video (some NSFW language) showcasing his abilities last season (season six). The author regards Dahis' play in the video to be exceptionally skilled at creating and maintaining pressure. The viewer will notice how often Dahis switches targets and is always damaging something on the other team.

Pressure is the measure of how well you can put the enemy team on the defensive (largely through damage).
Burst

Burst damage is purchasing Wrath of the Lich King packing a large amount of damage into a short amount of time.

Spell DPS (the scariest kind of burst) usually accomplishes this by backloading damage. Backloading is essentially timing multiple spells, procs, and debuffs to hit at the same time (or in as short a time as possible). Destruction warlocks, for instance, will do the following to achieve maximum burst on a kill target:
  1. Curse of the Elements
  2. Immolate
  3. Chaos Bolt
  4. Searing Pain spam while Chaos Bolt is traveling (Incinerate will be spammed instead if a Backlash proc is available)
  5. Conflagrate
In this order (and with appropriate distance of 20 yards or more), this burst combo will allow all three spells to hit at the exact same time. The warlock can add control to the burst combo with spells like Fear, Shadowfury, Death Coil, and Spell Lock. If the warlock is allowed to do all these steps, devastating consequences can appear.
While not entirely accurate, I've seen something like that happen before (thanks to Laina for the permission to use the cool MS paintings!). Last season, my #1 5v5 played our battlegroup's #2 5v5. Our warlock was able to 100%-0% global the opposing team's restoration druid without any of us doing a single thing to help him. The full furious-geared restoration druid had 24,000 something hp and our warlock's burst combo did a few points of damage more than that. Needless to say, it was pretty disgusting.

Melee burst is usually just chaining together a few high-damage abilities with procs from trinkets and on-use items. The most important skill to possess in melee burst is coordination with teammates. Because melee is often less limited with offensive abilities (when's the last time you saw a death knight worried about getting Pummeled?), you will be following your spell DPS's calls when it comes time to killing something (provided you have them on your team). That's not to say you're less skilled at bursting -- your burst is just very different. Unless you play a rogue, you're probably not going to have a nearly set-in-stone rotation for ideal burst (and even if you do play a rogue, there are tons of times where you'll want to do something different than your normal burst combos).

Burst is the ability (and coordination) to a kill in the shortest amount of time possible.

Crowd Control

Disclaimer: Crowd control? Is C-Money serious? I play an arms warrior, and we don't have any crowd control mmmrrrggglll! Oh yeah, and my alt is a retribution paladin and they also don't have any crowd control aaaaughibbrgubugbugrguburgle!
Last I checked, paladins have a cool magical stun. Arms warriors have an instant fear that can't be dispelled, in addition to some short stuns and an interrupt. I didn't say "spammable" crowd control. I didn't say crowd control "without a cooldown."

According to WoWWiki, Crowd Control "refers to spells and abilities which limit an opponent's ability to fight."

If you have an 8 minute cooldown, 25 second cast time, dispellable, decurseable, depoisonable (lol at made up words), 1 second duration snare that affects enemy players while inside an arena -- you have crowd control. Albeit terrible CC not worth using, you still have access to CC.

Every damaging class has some form of CC which is useful. (Every healer does too, in fact, but as you'll remember, we talked about that a little bit in utility -- it's far more important for DPS.)

Also, I put silences and interrupts into the crowd control category. Some people don't. In my book, an eight second Counterspell on a holy paladin basically does the same thing as stunning or fearing him for eight seconds -- prevents him from healing.

Uhh... disclaimer over. Yeah. That's a pretty big disclaimer.

As I've mentioned in other articles, crowd control is extremely important in almost every way possible. Crowd controlling healers while going for kills and crowd controlling enemy DPS while in an unfavorable position is the norm for a reason -- it's usually the best strategy at any given time.

Crowd control takes an incredible amount of coordination to be effective. Most crowd control (save stuns) break on damage. You certainly don't want to be Polymorphing something your warrior is about to switch to. Talk about what you're doing!

Most DPS will get stuck on two out of three of these subjects. Don't get stuck in that trap!

Next Week

We might do something other than the guide, just to switch it up for a bit. Maybe not. I still have at least 3-4 articles left for our beginner's guide series. Leave a comment if you have a suggestion!

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, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks, How-tos, Walkthroughs, PvP, Features, Guides, Classes, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Battlegrounds, Arena

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