Mastering the Arena: As subtle as a Tauren in a china shop

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Earlier this week, Blizzard opened up World of Warcraft's Arena Tournament servers for public signups. Every time they open, players can pay $20 for access to a separate server loaded with max-level characters, the best gear/enchants/gems in the game, and unlimited gold to spend—all of which adds up to provide the perfect competitive PvP environment for arena fans. The last time the tournament server was live, Josh grabbed a few of his friends and gave it a shot. We'll be sharing their thoughts on what they learned and if they thought it was worth the money over the next few days.

As Subtle as a Tauren in a China Shop

Mathew Craggs

I enjoy the occasional PvP combat, but my skills are...unique. On the rare occasion I PvP, it's usually in a Battleground and I'm too lazy to change out of my Rogue's Combat spec. However, I wanted to challenge myself to better understand how the sneakiest class behaves in PvP, so I tried my hand with the Arena Pass. And let me tell you, it was a challenge.

Ditching the Combat spec, I went with a popular rogue PvP spec: Subtlety. In the holding pen, I hit Stealth and waited to unleash a flurry of pain. The gates opened and we moved out. Josh called the targets and I went to town. Moments later it was over and our team was decimated. What had happened? Suddenly I realized I had not re-entered Stealth during the fight. I was Subtlety, but I was playing as if I were Combat.

On the live realms in raids, I'll step in if a tank falls and become a Rogue tank. However, my first few Arena matches made it very clear that such a Rogue would not survive long. I needed to embody a Rogue—sneaky, stealthy, silent, and able to pop in and out of combat with deadly efficiency. It became clear which spells and rotations were key and I immediately identified Shadow Dance as a big piece of the puzzle.

The one moment I'm ok with a mage tank.

We queued for another match, Shadow Dance at the ready. I dropped out of Stealth to deliver some punishment to a Warlock, who was quickly defeated. I hit Shadow Dance and began hitting the keybinds for Garrote and Ambush but nothing happened. My toolbar was empty; I had wrongly assumed that using Shadow Dance would switch my current toolbar to the Stealth toolbar where all of these Stealth abilities were kept.

After a few matches and some reworked toolbars, I was able to effectively interject Shadow Dance, Vanish, and Preparation into my spell rotation. My goal was no longer to deliver the most DPS; rather I wanted to enter Stealth as often as possible during a match. I found that my DPS naturally increased because I was spending my time coming out of Stealth with my heavy hitters instead of staying and fighting outside of Stealth.

My mind was no longer stuck in Combat, doing steady damage over a long period of time. I was Subtlety: I entered the Arena in Stealth, came out of it with a flurry of pain, and disappeared, only to reappear for more merciless attacks. My DPS came to resemble the heartbeats I was snuffing: Large, intermittent spikes. We didn't win all of our games, but I learned a lot about what it means to be a Rogue in a PvP world. At the very least, the next time that I enter a Battleground, I'll be a little more subtle.

If you're interested in trying your luck on the Arena Tournament servers, you can sign up on the official site or read the FAQ for more info.

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