DISCLAIMER: Everything I state is merely my opinion, not a fact. The purpose of this post is to generate some creative thinking, share my insight, and shed some light on topics that aren’t usually discussed or thought about with much care in relation to PvP. You may find some of my thoughts redundant, and you are likely correct – they are, but I don’t want to assume everyone is on the same page. Think outside of the box for a second, and remember about the mental aspect of any game/sport/team effort.
CREDIBILITY: I have 15 gladiator titles under my belt across 4 classes (Rogue/DK/Hunter/Warrior). My titles are from older seasons… if the ranking system when I played was similar to how it is now (top 0.1%), I would have 5 R1 titles. I’ve always been front page material (top 10-30), sadly I never could close out rank 1. I’ve been back to WoW for a while now all in anticipation of legion. I am very excited for where the game will take us moving forward.
I’m going to preface by saying that I do a lot of reading in my downtime at work, and I always see the same material posted across various internet channels. Say I’m a DPS class, and I’m looking to get better in arena so I come here to the forums – Mostly what I’ll read is “stun X, snare Y, kill Z, play with this class etc.” The strategies explained don’t go much past face value. Whether it’s about a class mechanic, a flaw of the game, a rant, or a strategy – to me, it’s a one dimensional approach to how PvP works.
You could say I’ve been around the block in terms of PvP, and I’ve seen just about everything. I’ve lost to the scrubbiest of players, and I’ve competed with some of best the game has to offer. I’ve even had my share of hardcore raiding experiences during my college years.
I’d like to share a few of my thoughts regarding:
1. Judgment: the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, esp. in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
Decision making is probably the single most important attribute to PvPing successfully, and it doesn’t get talked about in much detail. Any person interested in becoming successful in arena/BG’s would be naïve if they didn’t ask themselves: Am I making the best decisions possible with all given/current information available to me?
There are many parts to making a decision in relation to PvP:
Which ability should I cast first?
Which order should I cast them in to maximize synergies between my own class, and party/raid members?
I just noticed my opponent used an ability (i.e.: trinket), which ability can I cast to punish him the most given the situation?
I just received X buff, Y ability now becomes maximized.
The list goes on to the amount of variables included in making a decision.
Decisions are often what set apart the pros from the joes. I see countless people popping CD’s, using both offensive & defensive abilities all at the wrong time. Those who carefully take into consideration majority of the variables in which decision to make, often sets apart the good, from the average, from the bad.
Few easy examples: I’m on a resto druid, I see he has full HoT’s on himself. He’s at 70% health and it’s just me on him. I decide to pop a DPS steroid (2-3min CD). I fail at taking him down. I’ve spent a long CD, to force no defensive cooldowns, and caused no threat. Horrible decision on my behalf.
I’m on a resto shaman, his earth shield just depleted from my attacks. I want to maximize my damage into him: I decide to stun immediately after ES has gone away and I’m watching for riptide/HoT’s buffs to fall off. For the next 4-5 seconds, my attacks are going to land for full amounts. Regardless of % the shaman was at, I maximized my damage and minimized his healing. I applied the greatest threat I could given the options I was capable of. Although I may not have killed him (unlikely) I made a great decision.
Obviously the list goes on, and the decision making process is very dynamic. Those were only two examples I thought of on the spot, but hopefully you catch my point. These subtle things, strung together, over a large amount of time, create big results. So take it all with a grain of salt, and remember all the little details that should go into maximizing your decision based on your judgment.
2. Awareness: having knowledge; conscious; cognizant: aware of danger.
Awareness is one of the most basic but yet important PvP tactics in the game. Often hearing the term tunnel visioning, situational awareness is the exact opposite. Rather than focusing on one task, and one task only (i.e.: focus firing 1 target regardless of any other variables), being situationally aware is having the knowledge of what’s going on around you. PvP is dynamic, things change, characters move, abilities both offensive/defensive are used. You need to be aware of everything going on, which in turn can help guide you to better judgment.
Take a mage for example – being aware of your opponents, teammates, and environment/zone/arena/BG is very important. One of the mage’s greatest roles is a peeler through a spammable crowd control. Constantly aware of your healer/teammates around you, if they are in trouble, it’s your job to help peel the opponent. Sometimes you can successfully do so, sometimes you can’t – regardless, you need to be aware. Was that one additional frostbolt cast that caused absolutely zero threat worth it over casting poly on a DPS training your healer? Maybe in those very few seconds, it would be enough to keep your healer alive.
As a healer (or anyone to be honest), you should be aware of when your opponent’s offensive abilities are used, when Avatar is used, when Bloodlust is popped etc. All these taken into consideration should caution you, more damage will likely be incoming, I need to prepare myself for such results. Your trigger finger better be ready to pop a defensive if necessary.
I don’t care who you are... sometimes the game gets the best of you and you become so enveloped in what’s happening you begin to tunnel vision and lose awareness of your surroundings. I of all people am guilty of this, it’s human nature. So take with a grain of salt, everything that goes on with being aware and having situational awareness. Don’t get too caught up in 1 task, button mashing as fast as you can, and being so short sighted you fail to make a decision that would net a greater return given the big picture. It can often mean a teammate dying at your hand, or an opponent getting away with just a little bit of health.
3. Positioning: condition with reference to place; location; situation.
Positioning is pretty basic, yet vitally important in terms of PvP. Are you LoS (Line of Sight) of a healer, are you LoS of a caster/ranged? Is your character in the best position possible to assure you stay alive/maximize DPS.
Overextending: I see it time and time again, especially when you start to play in the 3v3 where more damage is prominent. Overextending is making yourself too vulnerable and at a high risk of dying. Either you are out of range, out of line of sight, or simply by the time your healer can move up and heal you, you’ve already taken too much damage to the point of no return, or death.
People tend to forget that backing off sometimes is okay, you don’t always have to be on a target every single second. It’s up to your judgment and awareness to determine that, the answer is not always black and white.
If you notice your opponent is out of position, capitalize on it! Change your strategy, and output more pressure by taking advantage of their poor tactics. Example: Blade’s Edge Arena, you start by pressuring their healer, with enough pressure, and you can force them to jump off leaving their DPS behind. Save a cooldown/stun/snare anything (knowing he’s probably about to jump off) - to take advantage of a DPS left alone for a few seconds. You might not get a kill, but causing enough for a momentum change in a game if not an easy kill.
Positioning is also important not only because you don’t want to over commit, or put yourself in a bad position – you should be preparing yourself to put your opponent in bad position (behind a pillar, under a bridge, etc.) It’s much easier said than done against lower level opponents, but dragging your enemy where he is out of LoS is equally important. Positioning is something most people don’t think about in the game, it happens intuitively. Just remember where you are, where you are going, where your opponents are, and where your healers are at - at all times. Symbols help me remember where my teammates are.
4. Attitude: manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes.
Without any direct examples, I’m going to use a quote from a R1 player that I read a while back. He had replied to someone: “I need to lose about 20 times, with less than a 20% chance of winning each game before I decide to give up.” I can honestly say, this attitude carries a lot more weight than most people think.
If you ask me, in my 12 years of playing WoW (Only 6-7 years of which were “hardcore”), attitude is the single most underestimated factor when PvPing. I’ve had partners who whine and cry about being underpowered and nerfed etc, focusing on the negatives, rather than focusing on the positives. You can title them immature, because to me, that’s what they are. If you are a mature player, surround yourself with other mature players, and you will likely see an increase in rating. Someone who doesn’t scream into the microphone, yell, cry, quit/log on you – those are the type of people I literally cannot play with. You could find me out in Durotar for hours upon hours dueling... and if I lose, I want to duel you x10 more times. Why? Because I don’t give up, and neither should you. The fact that you beat me, makes me want to beat you even more, and I’m willing to try anything to make it happen. It’s half of the learning process.
Don’t be a dodger, don’t be a selective queuer, don’t have a pissy attitude. I’m telling you from experience, you can be a better player if you simply try. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Don’t be afraid to take a risk, lose some rating, all to gain a greater net result.
Granted, there is a fine line for certain factors, but you catch my drift. I’d bet money that you will be more successful in arena over a an equally average period of time – if you keep a level headed approach/have level headed partners.
There is a reason people coined the term “on tilt” in poker, because they are playing with emotion and making unjust decisions. Irrationally, you make more mistakes – sometimes without even realizing it. Key to avoiding this is to accept your flaws, minimize mistakes, and don’t give up. Never ever give up. There is no advantage to giving up.
So you just read a wall of text, and a lot of you probably find me redundant, and yeah, I covered a fair amount of basics. My only goal was to shed some light on subjects in PvP that are more than just physical. There are mental aspects to the game that are equally if not more important. Take everything I said with a grain of salt, for there are always options and choices in a MMO. Always remember; nobody is perfect, everyone is human, and there is a lot more to the game then what meets the eye. Maybe you'll think about PvP differently next time you step into combat.