Gabriel "DarkFact" Zamudio played a Rogue in Ten Ton Hammer’s "Jammin Ninjas" arena team. Below is his personal recount of his adventures on the arena server.
Blizzard's Arena Tournament has been open for a little while, and we couldn't miss it for the world. With the promise of standardized gear and powerful items for everyone, we decided to enter our first night with a 2v2 Arena Team, consisting of me and Xerin.
When we first ventured into the Tournament server, I chose to be a Blood Elf Rogue, hoping to see what my character in the normal realm would be capable of when he hit 70 and had some decent gear. I'm familiar with the class and I know that it can be a powerful addition to the Arena Team if worked well. Adding in the fact you have Mana Tap and Arcane Torrent, I believed this to be a good pick, race-wise.
The first thing I noticed upon creating my new character in the Tournament realm was that I was outfitted in gear from Season 2, full Merciless Gladiator, the Medallion of the Horde, and both the Gladiator Weapons, which were conveniently the Bonegrinders (Maces).
Signing the charter. An important moment!
I was set somewhere near the Undercity, and the immediate surroundings are a strange sight to behold. Lined up, there are all sorts of Vendors, from Weapons, to Armor, to Accessories, to General Goods, to Enchants, Gems... - all free to you. Some had marginal Gold cost, but there's also an NPC that will give you 5,000 gold if you just ask it to.
Upon examining the weapons, it is evident that Blizzard has chosen Season 2 to be the platform in which to gauge the Arena Tournament, perhaps opting to leave some mystery to those players who are collecting Season 3 or raiding areas like Black Temple, Hyjal, and the Sunwell.
There's a wealth of weapons available for immediate use, from the Merciless Gladiator Weaponry, to drops from SerpentShrine Cavern and Tempest Keep. Opting to add a little more DPS to my set, I exchanged my Merciless Gladiator's Pummeler for a Rod of the Sun King. The proc it has only sweetened the deal, being able to restore 10 energy on my attacks. A drop from Tempest Keep's Kael'thas Sunstrider, this is a weapon my real rogue will probably not be able to hold for a very long time. Even though it is a bit slow, if most of my damage will come from Ghostly Strike, Sinister Strike, or Hemorrage, I don't think I will be needing speed all that much.
Then, it was time to pick some Armor - it remained the same, as 10 extra energy from the Merciless Gladiator Set, along with the Veteran items, are all that they offer in terms of Resilience, a very important stat if you want to live long in Player vs Player Combat.
Afterwards, I checked out my accessories, and exchanged my Bloodlust Brooch for something I thought could aid me a little better, which is the Warp-Spring Coil. A drop from Tempest Keep's Void Reaver, this item allows for a proc to ignore 1000 of my target's armor when I use a special ability. Knowing it was buffed in 2.4, I chose to give it a whirl.
The Enchants available were plentiful, with Mongoose being one of the better enchants offered for a single weapon. The others were major agility, and spell damage, penetration and so on. A good touch were the Gems, though, as there were a wealth of Gems to choose from and socket, including many PvP meta-gems.
Finally, it came to the point of choosing a Talent Build. You do not have to worry about any messups in this server - you may instantly respec again and again. Sure the Gold fee keeps rising, but when a friendly NPC keeps giving you 5,000 Gold everytime you ask it to, then who's complaining?
I picked what I observed was best in PvP while on my Warrior and Warlock, a rogue that specializes in Combat Stuns, and some points in Sublety in order to get the skills to Stealth faster, Cheat Death, and Improved Sprint.
Armed to the teeth, I headed to Thunderbluff and met up with Xerin. After a couple practice duels outside in Mulgore, we decided to give our team its first few matches.
The queue for a 2v2 battle was almost instant, which is unheard of in the normal servers, but this was a good thing. Our first opponents were a couple of paladins, both running around at very high speeds with their mounts.
Victory has never tasted so good.
I instantly guessed one of them had to be a healer and one of them a DPSer, and I was half-right. One of them went after Xerin and the other tried to keep me stunned. After noticing the insane amount of punishment my pursuer could take, I went after Xerin's opponent, finding him a lot easier to bring down. After a few stuns, lucky procs and mana taps, the first of the paladins went down.
Alas, the fight was far from over, the remaining Paladin summoned Uther Lightbringer's inspiration and fought bitterly against both of us - my attacks were almost useless against his insane blocking rate, and my best bet was to keep on manatapping him and stunning him while using rupture and hoping to land some hits. Xerin also did his part masterfully by Moonfire spamming him, however, the fight still lasted more than it should have. In the end, TenTonHammer's Team started successfully!
Drunk with the taste of victory, we queued again almost instantly, only to find stiff opposition in the form of a mage and a rogue. One of the most popular 2v2 combos as of late, they played wonderfully and outdid our efforts in a few minutes. This seemed to be the flavor of the day as we fought a handful of Mage and Rogue teams. A lot of sheeps and blinds afterwards, we finally fought another combo.
Other fights we had included a Shadow Priest and Warlock, which we outlasted. Knowing the Warlock's weakness is his pet is a giant advantage, as I immediately set my eyes on it and took it out without too much effort. This allowed me to sprint and stunlock the Warlock down as fast as I could, before he re-summoned his pet and caused my healer much grief. After a few moments, my trinket procced and I took the Warlock down, leaving the Priest vulnerable as he was still chasing Xerin around.
I quickly ran over to him, Blinded him, then let him have it with Sinister Strikes and Kidney Shots. When it seemed he was getting away, I finished the fight off with a Deadly Throw.
Our last match was a Shadow Priest and Rogue, which we also defeated thanks to the survivability Druids have and the staying power my mace talents had, compared to the opposing rogue's daggers. The match started out wrongly, since Xerin was spotted by the enemy rogue and both of them got on him, but I was able to get on the Shadow Priest and delay the other Rogue enough to give Xerin some time to heal himself. I got low once, but Cheat Death came up and Xerin masterfully healed me back to decent health. After a lucky trinket proc and some crits, the Shadow Priest went down and the Rogue, in a very strange move, Vanished and left the Arena.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with Blizzard's ability to organize and set up a Tournament with this level of quality. Ensuring everyone has a decent shot at winning matches by having all Gear available is one of the best ways to promote their Arena Battles as a cyber-sport. It's not hard to see how many people could get drawn to it, as it would no longer require a giant timesink, but instead skill, luck, and personal item choices.
Priests do not go down without a fight.
I believe that many players will enjoy this Tournament even if they don't have a chance to hit the top, if just because they're able to see how their characters could evolve should they continue doing the Honor and Arena Grinds in their own servers. We know that Season 2 will be made available shortly through Honor Points, and it's exactly what this Tournament is running on, so it'll be a good preview on how things could get to be in the future.
By the end of the night, we were queuing up more than we said we would, winning and losing, yet just plain having fun and hoping to outdo the other teams. Fear of being outgeared is one of the primary concerns that invades you once you step into the Arena in the normal servers. In this Tournament, that's gone, so all you have to do is rely on your own skills, and shoot for the top.
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