I’ll be honest, for a very long time while I played my druid and my first few months as a Death Knight, I abhorred PvP. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of Wintergrasp, arenas and BGs to get geared and help a druid friend of mine get one of the furious gladiator weapons. I won’t purport to be able to present strategies that will help you become an expert in PvP, because I’m still learning these kinds of things. I will, however, offer some advice on what I’ve found helpful in learning to be better in arenas.
1. Situational Awareness is different in arenas than raids
In a raid situation, situational awareness is largely related to your own survival. Stay out of the fire. Move out of the eyebeams. In an arena, you need to pay as much attention to your feet and the fire you may or may not be standing in as to those of your partner. I’m really only playing 2v2 with any seriousness, but one of my biggest failings so far (though hopefully it’s improving) was not being aware of what my partner was doing or what was happening to her. Love your minimap, keep track of your arena buddies and try not to LoS away from your healer. Learning when to use Death Grip or Chains of Ice to keep her safe from rogues and other dangerous things. This brings me to my next point.
2. The UI you use for PvE may not work for PvP
The UI and mods I use for raiding are largely set up to let me know when the boss is going to do the next thing. These events are typically on predictable timers and so you can often avoid them by thinking ahead and planning what you will be doing. You also rarely need to target more than one mob, and extra targets are usually tanked and so stay relatively stable. In an arena, this is not the case. You need to have a way to easily cast on 2+ (depending on the type of arena you play) targets as well as switching between them. This can mean setting up hotkeys to cast on a focus target or using Clique and a PvP unit frame (I use Gladius) to make casting easier. A mix of these is probably best so you can best protect
your partners by way of being able to cast, without searching for buttons or tab-targeting, Chains of Ice, Death Grip and Strangulate.
3. You need to learn a new kind of timing
In raids, it’s obvious when you have to interrupt, switch targets, or turn on Frost Presence. Kel’Thuzad casting Frostbolt? Time to Mind Freeze. One section of Mimiron going down faster than the rest? Switch targets. OT dead? Turn on Frost Presence and do your best to tank whatever’s loose. In an arena, you have to decide when to use Mind Freeze, Strangulate, as well as the spec-dependent abilities such as Gargoyle, Hungering Cold and Mark of Blood. Since these abilities all have CDs that feel like they take forever to end, managing them is important. Some tips:
- Save strangulate for when you think you can achieve something important, like killing one of your opponents, within the duration of the spell.
- Save Mind Freeze for important spells. This seems obvious, but I sometimes mistakenly interrupt a Restoration Shaman’s Lava Burst only to have him cast Lesser Healing Wave two seconds later.
- Use Gargoyle when you are going to have at least 6-10 seconds of uninterrupted (i.e. not running around feared) burst on an opponent. Gargoyle is immensely helpful in killing healers
- Don’t pop your PvP trinket (or Every Man for Himself, damn humans!) on just any stun. Save it for when you absolutely NEED to get out of it to save your partner or finish off a wounded opponent.
For every cooldown, there’s an appropriate time to use it in order to get the most out of the spell, whether it’s a simple Leap/Gnaw combo or the invaluable Empower Rune Weapon.
4. Macros are your friends.
For spells you cast a lot, like Chains of Ice, it may help to have macros set up that automatically cast on your focus target. For example:
/cast [target=focus] chains of ice
This macro will cast the aforementioned spell (or any other spell you want) on your focus target without you having to click unit frames and lose your current target. Macros like these save you time, which is worth a lot when you are trying to get a warrior to stop beating your healer’s face in with a big stick.
In conclusion, if you’re moving from raiding into arenas, like me, the switch can be quite jarring. My advice is to slowly start using more and more PvP-related mods and macros to give yourself time to get used to them. Just as moving your hotkeys around often can slow down or confuse your reactions, completely changing your UI or the way you play is hard to do all at once. Take time, enjoy the process, and kill some horde.