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Blood Sport: Having fun in the arena, 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.

My internet is still down. Yes, this has been two weeks of hell. No Google, no easy check on the weather (I have a motorcycle), no instant directions -- and most importantly, no images or videos of scantily clad ... orcs. World of Warcraft has been out of my bloodstream for yet another week.

Having fun in arena is one aspect I don't necessarily need a WoW window open to write about, so we're going to cover some bases that I might have forgotten last week -- namely, how to be a good teammate and encourage a fun atmosphere, and having fun while both winning and losing.

Read: Part 1: Having fun in the arena

Fun for teammates

Fun for teammates boils down to being respectful and culturing a pleasant atmosphere.

Being respectful is the first and foremost way to get on your peers' good sides. Earn respect by being respectful. Don't criticize your teammates' abilities too harshly or not give them a chance to explain their actions. Allow them to teach you things about your gameplay, and constantly be asking how to improve. The greatest leaders don't teach people; they lead by example. Asking your teammates how to improve will encourage them to do the same. Be the teammate you wish they could be. Adjectives to describe you well would be something along the lines of friendly and supportive.

Culturing a pleasant atmosphere is a bit challenging at first but pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it. Be someone you would enjoy being around. Crack jokes that don't insult people. Keep the mood lighthearted. Ask people if they have any good jokes to tell. Don't get overly offended at somewhat insensitive humor (as we all know, there can be a ton of that in WoW).

If a teammate is having a bad day and just wants to complain about everything, tell teammates to take a break and let him get some time to cool off. Playing games with someone on tilt is a surefire way to get more losses than normal and create a downward spiral. Everyone has those kind of moments; view it as not a big deal (after all, nothing in WoW should be that big of a deal in the first place, right?).

Objective: Fun

Make it a point that fun is an objective. As I mentioned in our last article, having fun should be the primary point of arena, not winning. Winning is fun, and we'll get to that shortly, but the best stories and memories in arena are usually doing wacky stuff.

Here's a list of things off the top of my head that I've done that make pretty excellent arena stories, and only a few of these panned out well:

Losing countless battles to a quad-boxing (that's four!) elemental shaman team and deciding we just wanted to Mind Control the main character off the Blade's Edge Arena bridge. It worked out really well -- the other three shaman were forced to follow the main one off, and we obliterated them from the confusion. I think it was our only win, but it makes for a pretty epic story if told right.
  • An all-boomkin 5v5 Moonfire spam galore.
  • An all-warlock 5v5 Can you imagine getting 20 DOTs put on you?
  • An all-restoration druid 5v5 So many draws.
  • An all-rogue 5v5 We quickly killed someone on the enemy team...then quickly lost.
  • A warrior-warlock 2v2 We actually hit something like 2,300 when both classes were overpowered and never expected to go above 1,400. I think most of our wins were due to shock value, though.
  • Playing multiple 2v2 games naked, 1v2, with a rank 1 title enabled (humiliation mode!) I finally got a win around 650 rating. The enemy team made a level 1 alt on my server to compliment me and ask some advice. It was a fantastic conversation, and those guys actually eventually server transferred over to play games with me and get Gladiator!

Winning

When you're winning, there is a large temptation to become addicted to gaining points. I've seen teams go from not caring about what happens to realizing that they actually have a very good team and suddenly get very, very serious. I'm talking incredibly serious. Serious business serious.

Winning is fun. It's a thrill and a rush to play with teammates and pound out some victories. Enjoyable teammates make arena matches have an incredible about of replay value. With each patch, arena players don't get to see new dragons and dungeons. We're lucky if we see an arena map or two per expansion. The thrill of arena is fighting enemy players and coming out on top. Seeing one step ahead of your opponents and executing flawlessly is one of the most skill-based and difficult things to master in WoW (or any game based primarily on skill).

However, it's important to remember that winning isn't the only thing arena has to offer and that some teams enjoy arena even if they only win one out of every 20 games. If that team is laughing and having a blast in all 20 of those games, I want to be a part of that team -- not a #1 gladiator team that can't stand to talk to one another. Most high-ranking teams have good relationships with one another; don't take that last sentence as an indicator that high rating and high fun are mutually exclusive.

Losing

Losing can be frustrating. There is almost always an enemy team out there that can stomp your guts out, even if you're sitting in the Rank 1 spot. For most of us, about half our battles will end in defeat. That's nothing to be ashamed of, as the system generally pairs you up against equally skilled opponents. (That's what it's designed to do.)

Instead of getting angry at both your opponents and your teammates, learn to take losses as lighthearted ways to learn more about your class, your composition, and arena in general. The most fun I think I've ever had playing arena was playing naked 1v2s. I think I lost over 100 games before I got a win, and it was a pretty enlightening experience. Once my rating started to get fairly low, I started to feel like I could actually win one and the lack of gear forced me to use unconventional strategies (Curse of Exhaustion, you became my very good friend that day).

Keep your eyes open to ways you can improve your game when you're losing, and you might find a diamond in the rough that allows you to jump 100 points. We were caught in a big losing streak playing a warlock / rogue / druid 3v3 and just decided to have some fun and not care about rating. We tried different crowd control rotations, damage combos, and target swaps. Nothing was working until we had discovered a way to pump tons of damage out of our warlock when stunning an enemy out of a Cyclone. We found a few more little gems and quickly gained back our rating plus 100 points due to both the new tactic and a heightened sense of enjoyment. Looking back on it, the latter was probably even more important than I originally thought.

Listening Music Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues.

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: Analysis / Opinion

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