Arena Disc Priest: Getting Started
I have about 4 weeks of arena play under my belt now, and thought that I would begin a series of posts on the arena system, the role of a Disc Priest on an arena team, and the flow of a typical arena match. This series will be aimed primarily at Priests who have not participated in the arena in the past, but who are looking to get started.
The first step to becoming an arena Disc Priest is deciding that it is something you want to do. And let’s be honest, there are ton of things that can, and do, discourage Priests from ever entering the arena. I am not going to try to convince you to give arena play a try if you aren’t so inclined, but I will be happy to counterpoint some of the more common deterrents:
I don’t have any PVP gear, and the really good gear requires impossibly high team and personal ratings. PVP epics are a reward, not an entitlement. And just like PVE, you should expect to start out in blues, and work your way up to better gear. Tailors can make an 8 piece Frostsavage set, as well as a PVP cloak, for very reasonable material costs. Jewelcrafters can also do PVP rings and a necklace. Play 10 arena matches in a week (which will normally take less than an hour), and run Wintergrasp a time or two, and you will be able to buy one piece of hateful gladiator gear every week. After 4 weeks, you can easily be sporting a full set of hateful gladiator gear, and a few purple off set pieces as well.
I am focusing on being the best PVE player I can be, and PVP would just be a distraction. My experience has been the opposite. I feel like my time in the arena has actually sharpened my reflexes, situational awareness, and overall knowledge of classes in the game, thereby making me a better PVE healer. For example, I was in a 25-man raid the other day that ass pulled a pat during a trash fight. There was no warning until I saw the mob run into my screen and wail on me, but through arena-forged reflexes alone, I was able to pop PW:S, Pain Suppression, and Desperate Prayer while kiting it to the tank before fading. I was in single digit percentage health by the end of the kite, but any other clothie would have been one shot in that situation. Needless to say, the tanks went wild in vent and couldn’t believe that I pulled that off.
I tried a couple skirmishes, and got my ass handed to me. The skirmish system is intended to be a place for arena teams to practice and/or warm up for rated matches, and not as a demo zone for players new to the arena. The arena system assigns your team a rating based on performance, and matches you up against similarly rated teams. In contrast, the skirmish system matches you up against whomever is in the queue. Since higher rated arena teams have a huge incentive to practice, you are very very likely to face a skilled arena team if you jump into a skirmish match to see what an arena match is like. Please don’t judge the arena based on a couple skirmish fights.
Burst damage is ridiculous and resilience is broken, so you can’t even heal in an arena match. Burst damage in PVP is still pretty high, and certainly greater than burst healing. Resilience also could be better, and should be come Patch 3.2. But that doesn’t mean you cannot effectively heal in the arena. Arena healing, especially against burst damage, is just very different from PVE healing. In order for most DPS classes to do burst damage, they have to have one or more debuffs on their target. Healing people through a burst often requires that you remove one of those debuffs to limit and/or prevent the burst from happening. It is definitely not your typical whack a mole healing style you can use in PVE, and if you bring that approach to the arena, you will probably fail . . . alot. But once you disable the burst mechanic on your healing target, the damage can typically be healed as normal.
My friends/guildies aren’t interested, so I can’t find a partner. This can be tough. Arena matches are intense, and require a lot of communication between you and the rest of your team. Arena players also tend to be very competitive people, and some don’t deal well with losing. In these cases, your best bet may be to look for a partner whose class is part of a well established comp. Also keep in mind that an aream team can have two times the number of players as the bracket size on the arena team charter. So you may be able to get onto an existing team as a reserve player. (My 3v3 team didn’t get any matches in last week due to scheduling conflicts, which could have been avoided if we had had more than 3 players on the team.)
You can’t win unless you play a specific comp, and my teammates are neither a rogue nor a mage. Some class comps do offer better synergies than others. But typically, this won’t become an issue unless and until you reach a pretty high level of rated arena combat. And many nontraditional comps will completely pwn the flavor-of-the-month comps. Each match in the arena is unique, and winning is a product of understanding your teams strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your opponents.
Where is this arena you keep talking about? Sometimes, I think the arena needs greater visibility in the game to attract more players. You queue for arena matches, and skirmishes, just like you would for a battleground (before they added the queue from anywhere feature for BGs). In most cases, the arena organizers are in the same place as the battleground emissaries. In Dalaran, they are down in the sewer though. (Nice work Blizz, keeping the arena players out of sight and mind from the rest of the WoW populace.)
Humping a pillar until I get ganked doesn’t sound like fun to me. Pillar humping generally refers to using objects to block line of site from another toon that is targeting you. It is a good skill to learn, but it is just a defensive technique, and not what you will spend much of your time doing in a typical arena match.
None of the above. Is there something about the arena system that keeps you from trying it out, or coming back for more? Let me know.
So hopefully the idea of getting into the arena doesn’t seem quite so terrifying as it did before. Next time, we will talk about the talents you should consider picking up to help you survive your initial forays into the arena.