Why is it important to predict your opponents? How does knowing when the rogue is coming to Sap going to help? What does it mean when a rogue runs towards your healer? Well as Sun Tzu says, "Know your enemies, know yourself".
If you know what your opponents are thinking and doing next, you can appropriately form a strategy to counter them. Knowing when a rogue is going to Sap increases your chance to un-stealth him. Knowing a rogue is trying to Blind you will let you counter it by using Shadow Word: Death or max ranging. These are all key things that can separate you from the majority of players and help you become a Gladiator.
Today I'll be going over some of the things you can predict for fighting Rogues, Hunters, and Mages.
Rogues have many common intents that you can read. Reading a rogue can essentially counter half their abilities.
Stopping a Sap.
Sap creates one of the best openers possible in World of Warcraft arenas. What are some ways to increase your chances in stopping them? As Retribution Paladin, Death Knight, Priest for example, my team always tries extremely hard to stop the Sap. Against Rogue Warlock Shaman we can charge in with Hand of Sacrifice on the Death Knight and he'll Unholy Frenzy on himself while the Priest Mind Sears one of us. Our entire team also throws area of effect abilities everywhere. This kind of opener makes it extremely difficult for a Rogue to Sap.
Almost all compositions have some kind of tool to make it hard or riskier for a Rogue to Sap. Make sure to do it! You can pretty much predict 100% of the time a Rogue will attempt a Sap. Do whatever it takes to make his life harder!
Another way to stop Saps is to simply break the Rogue out of Stealth. It may be worth it to play a Rogue as I've noticed the best players at breaking them out of Stealth are Rogue players themselves. It's easy to understand someone once you've been in their shoes!
Running Towards You:
If a rogue is running towards you, it usually means one of these things.
- He's trying to control you with Blind, Kick, or other abilities
- He's trying to swap on you
- He's trying to peel you with abilities such as Disarm, Gouge, or Redirect stuns
If you're a healer you should be ready to max range him. If his Blind is available be ready to Shadow Word: Death it as a priest or Hand of Sacrifice it as a paladin. If you're a Death Knight, be ready to Death Grip the Rogue away from the target he's trying to crowd-control or use Chains of Ice.
There are big differences you can read to when a rogue is planning to Blind you, or swap on you. For example, if you're a Restoration Shaman and you have your trinket up, chances are the rogue will try to Blind you to eat your trinket. Controversially, if you're a restoration shaman and you have no trinket he's probably running over to swap on you. This is almost 100% true if his Shadow Dance is up.
Reacting to Swaps:
Reacting to Rogue swaps is different from a possible Blind or crowd-control. Many top rated Restoration Shamans for example would Earth Shield themselves when they see a swap coming. This can easily mean life and death. Priests can shield themselves, and Druids can pre-hot. Knowing when a swap is coming to you as a damage class is the same. You can ask your healer for Earth Shield, pre-hots, and a shield. You can even pop damage reduction cooldowns that can't be used in stuns such as Divine Protection.
Predicting Smoke Bombs
Predicting Smoke Bombs can be life or death. Common intents are if a rogue hasn't used Shadow Dance yet, a crowd-control is about to end on your healer, or your Restoration Shaman needs to use Spirit Link.
Be ready to use defensive cooldowns if you see it coming. This includes things such as Life Gripping a bomb, using Hand of Sacrifice on a teammate before it lands, Roar of Sacrifice, Barrier, and much more.
Predicting what a Hunter is going to do is very different from Rogues. To predict a Hunter you have to predict what he is going to predict about you. That probably sounded a little confusing, hopefully this will make sense after the next few points I go over!
Scatter Shot is 20 yard range, which is shorter than most of his abilities. Be ready to max range it to force the hunter to use more cooldowns to get that Freezing Trap off!
Hunters versus Priests a lot of times is a mind game battle. They have to predict when the Priest is going to Shadow Word: Death. Another class with a similar ability is Paladins with Hand of Sacrifice. The best way to understand when the Hunter is going to scatter is to keep a few things in mind. One, is the short range of Scatter Shot so he'll likely charge in slightly to do it. Two, is understanding the player behind the Hunter. Most players especially at lower tiers you can just straight up predict it as soon as you see the Hunter charging into your face. However, at higher tiers it can become a "Faking" battle. He might come in and look like he's scattering just to get you to Shadow Word: Death or Hand of Sacrifice. Don't get faked by it! Learn how he acts from one game, and use it against him in the next.
Hunter running towards a melee probably means he's about to Deterrence. Deterrence in general is either used as a bubble ability, or an ability to predict damage. Knowing when a Hunter is going to Deterrence will help you not to Soul Swap into Deterrence or crowd-control into it.
This is similar to the mind game I've talked about in the Scatter Shot section. You'll have to learn how this hunter acts and use it against him. Read him like a book! If he's not used to fighting your team, it's likely that when he charges in with Scatter Shot, Freezing Trap, and Monkey Stun on cooldown that he's just trying to get you to Fear him or use offensive cooldowns. Don't fall for it!
Roar of Sacrifice:
Roar of Sacrifice is a very strong ability. It gives the person immunity to critical hits. Understanding how a Hunter acts can help you make this ability less useful. Lets say you're fighting Warrior Hunter Shaman. One way you can nullify a Roar of Sacrifice is by pretending to go on a Hunter, then immediately swapping off of him. Many Hunters are very reactive with their Roar of Sacrifice, and may even instantly use it as soon as they sense danger. They tend to be especially reactive when damage is happening to themselves. Use this instinct against them and fake that Hunter out!
There's a few signature moves that almost all Mages do. Depending on what composition they run, you can counteract these predictable moves.
Mages uses Invisibility on Opener:
These are the common things Mages try to do with Invisibility openers:
- Mage could Frost Nova your entire team
- Mage will likely open on you right after the Rogue Saps one of your team members.
- Mage could cast a shatter Frost Bolt that'll take out a chunk of your team member's health.
- Mage could Deep->Sheep your healer
- Mage could Blanket Silence Healer->Deep DPS or Polymorph DPS
- Mage could follow up any of his CCs with a Ring of Frost
How do you react to these openers? There are several things you can do.
- Break the mage out of Invisibility
- Stopping the initial Shatter or Crowd Control (This is especially important if it's Rogue Mage Priest)
First of all, the best possible situation is if you can break the Mage out of Invisibility. I know a good Death Knight friend of mine who could break Mages out of invisible at least 30% of the time. There are predictable pathings they use. Mages are different from stealthed Rogues or Druids because they have a limited time to act. This increases their predictability.
In Dalaran Arena for example, the Mage will most likely start straight from the stairs and head towards your team. He may stop and make a few turns to avoid getting hit out, but the general concept is the same. There really isn't much places for him to run towards! It's rather difficult for him to run from the bottom section of Dalaran as it takes a lot of time.
In Ruins of Lordaeron there are only 3 ways to run if your team starts at the tombs. Obviously there can be some degree differences, but it's essentially straight, left, or right. If you're a Death Knight you have a near 33% chance of breaking him out as long as you time your AOE correctly. As long as the mage isn't weary of getting hit out it's very easy to get this timing down to get your 33% chance of breaking him out. There are other several things you can use as a prediction to increase your chances as well. I've noticed nearly 50% of the Mages love to run in from your left (their right). Perhaps this is due to people being right-handed? I'm not too sure on the psychology of it. Try tracking how many times you see a Mage start from the left versus right versus straight and see what happens! Maybe you'll get different statistics from me so you can make your own prediction for breaking Mages out of invisible.
Stopping an Initial Shatter or Crowd Control:
Breaking Mages out of stealth in Rogue Mage Priest could be difficult sometimes due to positioning. In my examples I used Dalaran Arena and Ruins of Lordaeron which are the easier maps to attempt it. However, on Nagrand Arena a lot of times it's not happening. Versus Rogue Mage Priest you want to break their opener no matter what. 90% of the Rogue Mage Priest will try for a big opener.
Use @Arena Target Macros!
Use your Fel Hunter to counter this, or some kind of ability to stop that initial Frost Bolt. Make sure you have those Arena1,2,3 macros set up! Silencing Shot @arena2 or 3, spam Counterspell at the arena frame of the mage, or Howl of Terror as he opens. Do whatever it takes! If you defeat a Rogue Mage Priest's opener your chance of winning has just skyrocketed.
Didn't Stop the Shatter?
If you didn't stop the shatter or your team composition is unable to be smart about it. You know it's coming! You have predicted what they are going to do, so act on it. Be ready to pop defensive cooldowns and ask your teammates to do the same. Ask your Priest for a Barrier, Druid for Lifeblooms, Shaman for Earth Shield, and it can easily save your team from death on a Rogue Mage Priest opener.
Fire Mages Opener:
Fire Mages can open quite different from Frost Mages. Many Fire Mages do not start with invisible, and even if they do they act pretty much the same.
- Fire Mage uses Invisibility or some other method to push in and Dragon Breaths your healer into a Ring of Frost as his teammate crowd-controls the other 2 players.
- Fire Mage Blast Waves off the bat and pushes in.
- Fire Mage stays back.
If you see a Fire Mage charge in and your team has a freedom, be ready to use it right away because the Blast Wave will happen if you're clumped up.
Fire Mages - Combustion:
When you see on-use trinkets being used be ready to pop those defensive cooldowns! Fire Mages are especially obvious with their combustion. If you noticed a Pyroblast critical hit, that may also mean a Combustion is coming soon. Be ready to spam dispel as a healer, and use defensive cooldowns.
Another thing is, if you're a healer be weary of him pushing in on you. When a Fire Mage pushes in on a healer it means he's trying to crowd-control with Dragon Breath or kill him with Combustion.
Got More Information?
Hope you enjoyed the read! If you feel like I've missed anything about these 3 classes please comment so people can discuss about it. I'm sure there's plenty more to predict from just these 3 classes, especially with the Mists of Pandaria changes.