Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Arena Build

The first thing you need to know about the arena build, is that it is The Arena Build, and thou shalt die if thy talents are not 17/0/44.

Naturally this will change when Blizzard unleash the new talents, but until such time, spec this before your arena matches or fail.

Why? Why would almost 100% of respectable arena mages use the same spec?

... Because it is the only way to get the best arena talents!

which are: Improved Counterspell and Summon Water Elemental. Obviously you get Ice Barrier as well, and Cold Snap, on the way to your elemental, which are super uber arena talents in their own right.

Improved counterspell needs no explanation. It does, however, need 17 points spent in arcane

On the plus side you can afford to spec Arcane Fortitude. Ummm.. yeah.

I can't overstate how awesome the elemental can be in arena. There are a few ways in which I like to use him, depending on who we are facing. I'm sure there are others and would love to hear about how you guys use him in arenas, and also if you think I'm doing it right.

In most arena matches I will be invisible when the gate opens. This means I am relying on my team as my eyes and ears and communication is vital. I will often break my invis by summoning my elemental. I will then set him on one of two targets - whoever the team has nominated as first to die, or whoever needs to be hassled a bit while I'm doing something else, but isn't someone I'm planning to sheep.

Hunters and rogues often cop this one. They are just such pains in the ass I like to give them something to worry about instead of letting them chop up our team at their leisure. In these cases I set the elemental on one, sheep another, then join the team in taking out our nominated First To Die. (FTDs tend to be high threat and low survivability targets. Not always a healer, never a warrior.)

More likely, however, I will use it as additional DPS & of course for shatter combos and causing general havoc and disruption on the other team. If my first target needs to die in a hurry, usually a priest or druid, I will quite happily summon the elemental, send it off to attack my target, then look around and figure out where that target is, get into position and start blasting away.

I use Proximo for that by the way. Saves me having to actually know where someone is before I target them, which is extra useful in situations where I have just popped out of invis and need to send my pet off to kill someone. It's also great for picking a sheep target out of a pack of enemies. I can't recommend it highly enough for anyone playing arenas.

Anyway thats just for openers, what about my second elemental? This one I tend to use to finish off the other team or to save my bony ass. I usually find myself popping ice barrier, perhaps a nova, then using coldsnap, summoning my elemental and jumping into an iceblock. I like this little trick because it forces the other team to make a decision, and I have a plan regardless of what they choose to do. They can wait for my iceblock to finish and resume pounding me, they can go after the elemental I just summoned who is now attacking them on my behalf, or they can forget about me and my elemental and attack someone else on my team.

The first and worst option is to wait for my iceblock to finish and then kill me. This is super dumb but people still do it. While they are waiting for my iceblock to finish they aren't hurting my healer who is hopefully going to have me back to full health before the iceblock is over. They also aren't doing anything about the rest of my team who is -SO- going to smash them in retalliation for what they did to me. Oh and did I mention I summoned a second elemental just before the iceblock? Great for 1v1 situations where I'm almost dead, the elemental can do significant damage while im safely entombed in a block of ice.

I have won arenas by doing this when I was the last man standing. Especially helpful when your iceblock and your elemental are quite a distance apart, and that warrior knows that he only has to hit you once to win the match... They are likely to try and wait out your iceblock to land that killing blow, meanwhile your pet is pounding on them...

Then, if you blink nice and quick and time it right, you will not only get away unscathed, you can then freeze them and wind up a match-winning shatter combo. This is awesome fun. Nothing quite like being the last man standing, on next to no health, odds against you, and then pulling a win out of nowhere by using some basic kiting and enemy manipulation.

So in summary, if a mage iceblocks, don't keep hitting him, do something useful like get in his healers face or take out his elemental... I don't think im giving too much away here.

Ok, so the second and less stupid option is to take this opportunity to kill my elemental. The elemental dies really fast if someone is actually trying to kill it, and if I've had to iceblock and the other team wants him dead, he's pretty much gone. This does buy me some time, and I can use freeze to buy still more time. I will hopefully have copped a heal and will have reapplied my ice barrier as soon as the iceblock is over, so trading my elemental's life for mine isn't a bad thing at all. If my life isn't at risk, and you go after my elemental, I will generally end iceblock early, then blink away to safety, or my personal favourite, end iceblock early and unleash 31 flavors on whoever just turned their back on me and are now after my elemental. Still tends to work out in my favor.

And the third option I give the opposing team, if they dont want to touch my elemental or me, is to switch focus to someone else on my team. This is the best thing they can do, and it's pretty easy to know when this happens, so ditch that iceblock straight away, retarget your elemental if necessary, and enjoy not being the focus of the other team for a while. I am usually able to pump out a bunch of frostbolts and instants before someone decides to go back to killing me.

Remember, as soon as nobody is threatening you, release that iceblock and kill somebody.

With these strategies only possible with a frost spec, and Improved counterspell being as important as it is in arena, it's easy to see why there is only one Arena Spec!


gnomeaggedon said...

Awesomne.. you almost had me tempted to respec then... almost ;-)

Cynra said...

Didn't quite see this mentioned, but there's one other benefit to the elemental that I've seen. Sometimes you'll see one person in a team slink off and try to bandage or drink when he thinks no one is watching; while you might have difficulty finding where that person is, pets have no problems at all. A quick hit and your opponent is either interrupted or back in combat!