State of the Game—July 31, 2006
Arena Play Part 2
by Christian Brellisford
Special note: Each State of the Game article presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each State of the Game article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.
The Arena is a completely different type of player-versus-player combat than the rest of the game. Instead of the typical 8v8 combat of guild battles, the Arena is 4v4, with either randomly paired or pre-arranged teams. There are also different combat goals in some of the maps where the players fight. The Arena can provide some fast-paced combat for players looking to get into an immediate game. It can also provide valuable insights into build designs. It's a great place to test build viability, and the Team Arena can be used to test parts of builds to see how they interact and how effective they might be against opponents.
Random Arena versus Team Arena
In the Random Arena (RA) players enter solo with a character and get paired with three other random players. This has some advantages and some disadvantages. Random players will have random builds and should not be relied upon to form a well-rounded team. Sometimes you won't be paired with a Monk healer, or sometimes you may lack a Warrior tank.
This doesn't mean the match is an immediate loss, though, because your opponents are also randomly paired and have the same chance of random classes. You should also realize that sometimes the weirdest groupings of players can go on amazing winning streaks. Your team of three Rangers and a Necromancer might do so much damage they will rise up and go on a ten-game winning streak.
If your team does go on a ten-game streak in the RA, you will be deemed powerful enough to travel to the Team Arena to take on challengers of a different kind.
The Team Arena (TA) allows players to form parties of four to battle other arranged teams of four (or groups who have won ten in a row in the Random Arena). The TA is a great place for players to make specific builds. It's also a valuable place for guilds to test partial team builds to check damage output, or see how a defensive setup fares in real combat.
Because of the arranged nature of the TA, the fighting can be much more difficult in this area than in the RA. Groups tend to use a lot of gimmicks here to achieve their wins, and can go on long winning streaks. However if a team goes on a streak, reeling off a large number of wins, you might get to face them multiple times. That allows you to come up with a proper counter for their gimmick build.
Arena Map Types
There are four general map types in the Arenas. The first is the basic Annihilation map. Here your goal is to completely wipe out the other team before they do the same to you.
The second and third maps are similar to the first in that you must vanquish the other team to win. However, there are secondary objectives. On maps with flag stands, you can pick up the flag and control the stand for extra area-of-effect damage. While on maps with Priests, dead allies resurrect every two minutes. On those maps you must kill the Priest as well as the enemy team to win.
The last map type is the Kill Count map. This keeps score of how many kills your team achieves over the course of two minutes. The team with the higher number of kills gets to move on. It is also good to note that when you die you automatically get resurrected within 20 seconds, and there is no death penalty on this map.
Arena Build Design
Build Design is different for Team Arena versus Random Arena. If your goal is to design a build for the RA, there are a few things you can do to make your build much more effective.
First, realize you may not be paired with a healer, so having some sort of self-heal is a great way to increase your chances of victory. Here are the simple, non-Monk self-heals for each class:
||Aura of Restoration
||Life Stealing skills
||Restoration Magic skills
With the ability to self-heal, you decrease your reliance on being teamed with a Monk. This allows you to stay in the fight longer and makes you harder to kill. All of these translate to advantages over opponents who don't bring self-heals along.
You should next look at the type of character you're playing and what opponents can bring that might counter your build. For example, your Ranger might get Blinded, which will severely reduce your effectiveness. You might want to consider equipping Antidote Signet to remove Blindness to round out your character.
If you are an Elementalist and can get interrupted easily, then maybe a Mesmer secondary with the skill Mantra of Resolve is for you. Adding a simple utility skill from a primary or secondary class can make the difference between an effective and an ineffective build.
Players should also recognize the importance of resurrection skills. Having some sort of resurrect on your Skill Bar means that as long as you're alive, there's always a chance for a comeback. Sometimes you might think you're winning a match in the Arena but then the last opponent resurrects a fallen comrade, which turns the tide of the match and catches your team off-guard.
Resurrection Signet is the standard choice for non-Monk players. But the Ritualist skill Flesh of My Flesh is a great resurrect to use because it casts quickly and can be used more than once. Other Monk resurrects are great too, but they often don't provide resurrected players with enough Energy or Health.
Monking in the Arena requires some different thinking than playing a Monk in a Guild Battle. There are fewer players in an Arena match, so your Monk will get a lot more focus from enemies than you might be used to. Be prepared with self heals, but don't overload because you want to be able to heal your allies when opponents switch targets. Utility skills like Mend Ailment and Remove Hex can be effective for almost any Monk in the Arena because you can help players who didn't bring their own removal.
When titles were introduced to Guild Wars, the developers included a title for Arena winning streaks called the Gladiator Title Track. Points toward this title are earned by winning ten Arena matches in a row.
Becoming a Gladiator
Becoming a Gladiator requires experience and knowledge of the Arenas. Almost anything goes here, so to become a Gladiator, you have to expect the unexpected. Designing self-sufficient builds that can work well in any situation is the best way to excel in the Random Arena. When you ascend to the Team Arena, you need to start looking at new skills and team interaction if you want to plow through other Gladiator seekers. You should also experiment with skills you've never tried. The Arena is unique because a lot of seemingly ineffective skills become very useful and quite effective when played in the smaller environment. Remember, you may not win all of your Arena matches, but you should always try to have fun.
Christian Brellisford is a college student currently studying video game design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in hopes of pursuing a career in the field. A gamer since an early age, Christian has been involved with Guild Wars since the E3 for Everyone Event in 2004, and currently leads the Spirits of War guild. You can find him in game under the name Saidin Writer.