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Blood Sport: How to start a new character for PvP, part 2

Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 Gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in Blood Sport.

Please check out last week's article on starting a new character for PvP; we discussed different ways to analyze your own playstyle and alluded to this week's subject of strengths and shortcomings. I asked four important questions about playstyle and gave my answers to the questions; however, because some seemed to be left wanting, here is a little more information on those questions.

What kind of player are you?

Do you like applying damage, healing, or both? If you like doing damage, you can play every class in WoW. Most classes do damage very differently in arena. However, we can boil each type of damage down to either burst damage or sustained damage. Occasionally you'll get a class that is flavor-of-the-month that seemingly does both very well.

Certain classes also have specializations that operate very different ways. For instance, warlocks have affliction and destruction, which operate in very different ways. Affliction tries to grind you out, run your healer out of mana, or just do a ton of damage spread all around the board with comparatively very little burst potential. On the other hand, destruction is the polar opposite, offering burst damage to the wielder at the expense of high sustained overall damage.

There's also the choice of whether you like to beat things in the face or blow them up from afar. Some people cannot tolerate melee, while others think standing in one place for longer than two seconds is boring.

If you like healing or doing both, you have four very good choices open to you. Do you want to do an equal mix of both? Priest or shaman might be right for you. If you're more about healing with little damage output (although definitely viable for both), druids and paladins are great at playing D, even if they heal in very different ways. Druids have ample crowd control, while paladins have ridiculous on-demand healing.

Are you primarily offensive or defensive? Nearly every class can play well offensively or defensively, but there are some that work best as one or the other. Healers tend to be more defensively oriented, although certain classes and situations can really bring out the offensive nature of certain healers. Druids can use crowd control offensively, and priests have a myriad of different damaging spells to aid their teammates. Shamans are probably the most balanced of the healer classes (in terms of offense playstyle vs. defensive playstyle) and have tools to deal with a variety of problems. If you are a hardcore defender and don't like a ton of offense, you might be interested in trying out a holy paladin. With the exception of a few abilities (compared to the other healers), holy paladins are largely a pillar-hugging shield of healing power.

In what situations are you at your best? Situations where you are at your best speak to your strengths. You should look for classes that maximize these strengths in arena -- because I might not be able to speak to your strengths, I'll tell you what I see in my "best" moments. I enjoy "tanking" in PvP. I'd rather play a class that is viewed as weak and easy to kill than one that is viewed as survivable. I'm always the first one on my team to initiate the enemy, and I usually just charge right out of the gates to start combat so the opponent has very little time to think.

Warriors have a particular stigma that attacking them causes their damage to drop because they play defensively in defensive stance. This is something that greatly appeals to me, as I would appreciate being attacked and could benefit from the extra rage generation. Moreover, my damage does not drop very much, even when I am playing at my most survivable level.

In what situations are you at your worst? One of my greatest weaknesses is not being able to make correct decisions when I am not being focused. I need fewer options when I am being left to "free cast." Melee generally have less options than casters when they are left alone -- they generally stay on only one or two targets, while casters often have everyone on the opposing team in their potential crosshairs. Healers even have more options, because they must choose what teammate to cast a heal on or pre-HoT or which spell to use on a particular opponent. Some people enjoy the freedom to choose so many different lines of play; this is not my strongest area, so while I will attempt to get better at it over time, I would rather limit my weaknesses when possible.

Fun: The ultimate factor

Ignore what your guild needs, what your friends play, or what your current arena teams wish they had available. Focus on what you enjoy doing. If you're playing a class because of obligations, you're hurting everyone in the long run -- especially yourself. If you're the main tank of a guild, that can be your PvE character while you switch to another character for PvP. Perhaps you can even convince your guild down the line that you're better on your PvP character than on your tank. I've seen it done before.

Test drive before you buy

No, I'm not talking about illegal accounts on the black market. You can make a premade character on the PTR and see what they're like when that option is available. If nothing else, you can get a lot of PvP experience in with the class just by dueling. You might discover that you actually hate the class and save yourself days, weeks, or perhaps months by deciding that shiny new paladin just isn't for you.

You also might absolutely adore your new class. It's a great feeling when you enjoy another class more than one you've been playing for months or years as your main.

I'm going through that right now by rediscovering my love for warriors instead of sticking with my warlock. And yes, I know that warlocks got crazy buffs and warriors got nerfs last patch. That isn't swaying my decision, and it shouldn't sway yours, either. Being overpowered comes and goes, but matching playstyles will make you far more overpowered than a small percentage increase in a few abilities one way or the other.

Next week

We'll be talking about how to set up keybinds that you don't even have yet, leveling strategies, gearing, and more. Until then, enjoy the changes that came with the new patch!

Listening Music VideosRecordedLive, which is a pretty neat YouTube channel remake of A Beautiful Mine by RJD2, which is coincidentially used as the Mad Men theme song. Mad Men is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I'd suggest you check it out if you haven't already.


Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? We'll steer you to victory with the best arena addons and let you in on some rank 1 gladiator PvP secrets. Be sure to check out our guide to PvP keybindings.

Filed under: Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

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