State of the Game—July 24, 2006
Welcome to the Arena
By Adam Sunström
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.
In Guild Wars, the Arena is the battle-hardened ground on which the titanic clash of 4v4 play takes place. This article covers the two main arenas: Random Arena and Team Arena. Both of these outposts are found near the Great Temple of Balthazar and are accessible to roleplaying characters through the ship icon on the World Map.
A primary function of the arena is to have fun, spill your enemy's blood and test new PvP strategies for possible future 8v8 battles. Lest you think the arena is a zone purely of toil and battle, rewards may be gained here as well. The first time you kill an enemy player in a match, you will gain 20 Balthazar faction. Killing that same enemy again is an exercise in redundancy, however, and will gain no additional faction. Your team will be awarded 25 Balthazar faction for each match they win. If you achieve victory without any of your team dying, you will get an additional 25 faction from Balthazar for your Flawless win. Winning five matches in a row will give you 25 faction for your relentless devotion to mayhem. Balthazar faction can be used to unlock skills, runes, or weapon upgrades.
If you win ten games in a row in the Random Arena or the Team Arena, you will be awarded a "Gladiator point." Once you've amassed 25 points, all characters on your account earn the "Gladiator" title and you can broadcast your prowess to Tyria at large.
The Random Arena is the fast and easy way into Guild Wars PvP. You cannot start a team in the outpost, but you will be randomly grouped with three other players for a team of four after you enter the mission. Upon entering, you will find yourself in one of a number of arena maps. The simple goal is to lay waste to your opposition, but each map presents unique challenges via geography. After each win, your team is randomly teleported to another arena to face the next enemy team. If your team gains ten wins in a row, you will automatically move to the Team Arena for your 11th match. Random Arena is a good place to try out new skill combinations and practice general PvP combat.
Fort Koga—A straight-up deathmatch without bells or whistles. You can easily find your character stuck on the corner bushes if you use spacebar to follow your enemy.
Shiverpeak Arena—A frozen river runs through the center of this map. Pausing on the ice gives you a movement speed penalty of 70 percent for five seconds. You can run on the ice without penalty as long as you do not start and stop on the river.
D'Alessio Arena—Puddles of poisonous water on a path here cause significant Health degeneration to anyone who steps in them.
Ascalon Arena—A large tar pit is at the vortex of this bowl-shaped map. You can walk through it, but your movement speed will be slowed by 30 percent.
Seabed Arena—Patches of Spiked Coral deal 25 damage per second to anyone that moves through them. You will not take any damage while standing still. Each team on this map starts with a Priest who resurrects your team with full Health every two minutes The Priest uses Heal Area to heal himself and allies, but he also heals opponents who are standing next to him when he casts it.
Brawler's Pit—A flag stand is at the center of this map. Each team begins with one flag in their base that respawns if another team touches it or your team captures the flag stand. To capture the flag stand, pick up the flag, run it to the middle of the map, and click the flag stand. At this juncture, statues along the wall activate and periodically shoot fireballs at all enemies who are positioned in certain areas of the map.
Heroes' Crypt—Much like the Brawler's Pit, each team starts with a flag in their base. On this map, however, use your flag to capture the Obelisk at the center of the map. Once you own the powerful Obelisk, it fires at regular intervals, targeting one enemy within its range.
Shing Jea Arena—There is a small stream in the center of the map and patches of Miasma along the outer borders. Walking through these patches causes your Health to degenerate at ten Health per second. If you walk close enough to any other players while afflicted with Miasma, it spreads to them. It does not spread from players to pets.
Petrified Arena—Giant mushrooms dominate the landscape. Periodically, they release clouds of Stone Spores, causing any players standing in the clouds to have a 50 percent chance to miss with attacks. If they attempt to cast spells, the spells take twice as long to cast and have a 50 percent chance of being interrupted. Stone Spores last for ten seconds. There is a puddle of enchanted water on the lower half of the arena. Enchantment spells cast on players who are standing in this water last 20 percent longer.
The Crag—Unlike all the other arenas, The Crag is not a deathmatch, but a race to get the most kills in three minutes. If the teams are tied when the timer reaches 0, Sudden Death will come into play, awarding the win to the first team to score a kill. A lava stream runs through the center of the map, along with puddles to the side. Walking into this lava sets the player on fire, causing Health degeneration and Crippling the player. Both of the Conditions are temporary and wear off two or three seconds after you step out of the lava. Every 30 seconds, all dead players resurrect at the Shrine nearest to the spot where they died, and come back with full Health and Energy.
The Team Arena is purposed for organized 4v4. It is much like the Random Arena in its working, but here players have the option of forming their own teams. Since players are able to synchronize their builds and choose their teams, the competition in the Team Arena is brutally harsh compared to Random. The Team Arena includes all the arena maps described above, as well as one extra, the Deldrimor Arena.
Deldrimor Arena—This map resembles the shape of a quadraped's iron-shod foot, with two paths running along the curve toward the enemy base. There are no environmental effects to worry about on the upper path, but the lower path is a slow-motion horror of ice. Each team starts with a Priest who resurrects his team every two minutes for as long as he is alive. He uses Heal Area.
Tips and Advice
If you play in the Random Arena, it is important to remember that most likely your team members are not there for the reason you are. If their "unskilled" play leads to your untimely death, be patient and calm. Chances are they're testing a new build or skill set and their character wasn't designed to counter what the enemy team brought.
However, if you're there to win as much as possible, here are some universal tips that will help.
- Only bring Level 20 characters into the arenas.
- Bring a Resurrection Signet. It will let you resurrect one ally to full Health and may easily turn the tide of a match. Use it as fast as possible if you see an ally fall.
- Bring a skill that you can use to heal yourself. You don't always end up with a Monk or Ritualist on your team.
- Call your targets by pressing Ctrl + Spacebar to let your allies know what you're doing, but don't spam targets excessively.
- If you are using a build that deals direct damage or can shut down an opponent, focus on killing any enemies that can heal before you attack anything else. Players die much faster when their healer is dead.
- Watch out for Traps, Wards, and Spirits. If the enemy team is bunched and waiting for you to draw close, be wary. Attack them from afar if possible and goad them into close combat or nuke the area with AOE spells to make them move. Narrow staircases and bridges are popular places for Traps.
- Don't run away from your team healer when you're damaged. If the healer has to give chase, another team member will likely die while you're wasting the healer's time.
Good luck, and have fun out there!
Adam has been playing Guild Wars since February 2004 when he joined the Alpha test and has been interested in the competitive aspects of the game from the beginning. In the early Beta Weekend Events, he led his former clan, The Fianna, with success. He is currently a member of Black Widow [Wi].